Corona del Mar Today: CdM Median Banner Frame Installation Delayed

Ten months after being approved by the Newport Beach City Council, a permanent frame for banners will be installed at the Marguerite Avenue intersection of E. Coast Highway. But a dig alert has delayed the project by a few days, city officials confirmed.

Currently, banners advertising community events are placed on sagging poles in the median, looking like "bed sheets," according to some city officials.

The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District spent more than a year working on an upgrade, and at one point the group considered an electronic sign that would flash messages. The City Council rejected that idea in February 2010, calling it "Las Vegas-ish" and out of keeping with the Corona del Mar village vibe.

The B.I.D. group then proposed adding a powder-coated permanent frame to the intersection and requiring signs to be standard in size and material. When signs aren't in place, the cross bars can be removed, and the green-colored posts would blend into the background. The frame cost about $2,000, according to a city staff report.

At a recent B.I.D. board meeting, members said they would contact officials with the city's Parks Department, which issues banner permits to community groups, to remind them that banners must now be a standard size to fit the frame.

Permits for the project have been issued and crews have used paint to mark the spots where they will dig for the posts.

The installation, which was scheduled for last week, was postponed until sometime this week because some utilities are in the way that require a slight relocation, said Tara Finnigan, a Newport Beach spokeswoman.

Dig alerts typically are done after permitting but before actual digging begins, Finnigan said.

"In this case, they found some things in the way and had to modify their plans," she said in an email.

CdMRA board meetings to change locations

The Corona del Mar Residents Assn. will move its monthly board meeting to the OASIS Senior Center — a move that could become permanent if board members approve the change.

The meetings have been held at the Newport Beach Country Club since the CdMRA formed in 1987. But the country club could be undergoing a major remodel soon, and some members have long questioned the meetings being held outside the boundaries of Corona del Mar.

Board members spent months looking for an alternate location and decided this month to pay $25 more per month — $100 total — to rent a room at the OASIS Center at Fifth and Marguerite avenues.

The group meets at 7:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15.

City readies Begonia Park for 2 new benches

Crews have created "bench pads" for two donated benches that will be installed in Begonia Park in September.

The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission approved the donation of the new benches at its August meeting. The benches will honor Patricia Lord Mahan and Dave Dickson. The commissioners agreed that no new bench donations will be accepted for Begonia Park.

City officials said an existing bench would be replaced when the two new benches are placed in about four weeks.

B.I.D. Board Unhappy With Tree Well Plantings

A month after 150 Corona del Mar village tree wells were planted as part of a beautification project, local leaders are fuming because so many of the plants have been stolen or have died.

"People are pulling them out because the plants are dead," said Linda Leonhard, president of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce.

"It's unsatisfactory as far as I'm concerned," said Bernie Svalstad, chairman of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District. "We'll have to have a walk-through and get it all straightened out."

Many village tree wells are planted by local business owners with flowers and plants. Most, however, were filled with dirt, bark and debris, so B.I.D. board members decided this year to plant them with native plants and grasses. The project was to cost about $100 per tree well, and the planting was done last month.

Several plants were stolen, however, and many others were trampled, especially in areas with a lot of foot traffic, members of the B.I.D. said at a board meeting today. Other plants withered and died because the landscaper had not supplied irrigation to all the tree wells.

The B.I.D. has not yet paid for the landscaping work, Svalstad said.

The B.I.D. considered installing artificial turf in Corona del Mar's tree wells, and in January 2010, they had samples installed in two tree wells in the 2800 block of East Coast Highway. By December, however, the group decided that fake grass was "considered inconsistent with the aesthetic that is desired in Corona del Mar.

Several Corona del Mar residents said they preferred the fake turf to what replaced the two tree wells near Starbucks — dying grass and trash.

"This just looks like a garbage dump," said a man who gave his name as Curtis. "The artificial looked great. They missed the mark here. This is horrible."

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