From toddlers to seniors, from passive to active park- and beach-goers, and for people of all ability levels: promoting enjoyable, safe, and accessible recreational facilities and activities has been one of the unwavering goals of the Friends of the Powerhouse’s efforts from its inception in 1988.

Through community fundraisers, donations, grants, and other activities, Friends of the Powerhouse (FOP) has raised more than $3,000,000 for the benefit of the City of Del Mar.

Current Fundraising Project

Donations Needed For Tot Lot Renovation Cost Overruns 

Our beloved Tot Lot park renovation is now complete, and it’s more magical than ever. The giggles, laughter, and joy of children can once again be heard echoing through the park. This project, which started as a dream, has turned into a remarkable reality thanks to the unwavering dedication and support of the community.

As with any great endeavor, there were some unforeseen challenges along the way that resulted in cost overruns. We are reaching out to you, our incredible community of advocates, friends, and park users, to help us bridge this financial gap and ensure that the Tot Lot remains a safe haven of imagination and play for generations to come. We welcome any donation you are able to make. Opportunities still exist to purchase commemorative red bricks to be placed on the Powerhouse stage, and at a later date on the low Tot Lot wall. Commemorative grey planks along the sides of the boardwalk entrance to the Beach Safety Center are also available. Please see our Buy a Brick or Plank tab for more information. Thank you!

upcoming fundraising project

Next on the Beach….

A New Powerhouse Viewing Deck

Working with Del Mar architect Howard Gad, in 2019 FOP proposed an expanded deck for the City-owned Powerhouse building. The plan is to extend the current balcony area to create a large second-story deck. Friends of the Powerhouse and the City of Del Mar were working together on this project until COVID-19 put it on pause.

The Del Mar City Council has indicated its support for the expansion and has budgeted the necessary study and construction plan costs. Friends of the Powerhouse have offered to work in partnership with the City by providing major funding for the addition to the building.

The new addition will provide a place where people can go to relax, come together, meet friends, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the beach below. The plan is to create an open viewing patio off the current second-story porch.

On our future wish list is the hope that either the downstairs patio or the upstairs deck can be enclosed.

In 2019, FOP offered the City plans and most of the funding needed to construct a viewing patio over the lower trellis of the Powerhouse. We look forward to the City Council revisiting with the intent to proceed with this project when the City’s budget has recovered and City funding appears to be available to supplement the funds to be raised by Friends. Stay tuned! We will need your help!

Completed Projects

2024: Penguin Plunge Commemorative Towel Fundraiser

Thank you all for participating and buying our Penguin Plunge towels. It was a beautiful day, full of sunshine, penguins and donuts! Happy New Year!

2023: Tot Lot Renovation Project

With hearts full of joy and gratitude, we’re happy to have celebrated a remarkable achievement in April 2023 – the transformation and complete refurbishment of our beloved Tot Lot park! Nestled within the picturesque Powerhouse Community Park, the Tot Lot has been a barefoot-and kid-friendly haven since its inception in the ’90s, providing endless giggles, laughter, and cherished memories for our young adventurers.

Decades of Dedication–Friends of the Powerhouse displayed their unwavering commitment by orchestrating the first monumental upgrade of the Tot Lot in 2001. That initial transformation was fueled by the contributions of our incredible community, embodying the true spirit of togetherness and care. Look for our original donors listed beside our current donors, enhanced by the many tiles painted by local children.

A New Chapter of Wonder: Today, the community enjoys a new chapter in the Tot Lot’s history. The passage of time and the wear and tear of joyful play prompted the need for a complete rebuild. Believing our community’s youngest citizens deserve a space that not only captures their imaginations but also ensures their safety, by working together we made it happen. Deteriorated equipment that no longer met safety codes was replaced, setting the stage for countless more years of laughter and exploration.

A Shared Vision of Play: United by our commitment to fostering joy and growth, the City secured a significant grant for the playground infrastructure and contributed General Fund funds while Friends of the Powerhouse rose to the occasion raising $100,000 from the community for the vital playground equipment that shaped this haven of play. We are currently fundraising for the close to $40,000 in cost overruns.

Working together we meet the community’s needs! Thank you to our cherished donors, steadfast supporters, and passionate advocates for helping us turn our vision into the reality that our delighted children now enjoy!

Before Renovations

Foundation was settling causing unlevel conditions

Before Renovations

Structure elements were uplifting from base

Before Renovations

Several areas of the play structure had eroded and were rusting

Before Renovations

Several areas of the play structure had eroded and were rusting

Not Before Renovations

Several areas of the play structures no longer met code and needed to be replaced

Before Renovations

Water was ponding near structure causing a major hazard

2012: Beach Safety Center/Lifeguard Tower

Buoyed by its success with the Powerhouse Restoration, FOP next tackled the Lifeguard Headquarters and grim eyesore of a drainage ditch that deterred easy access to the beach. Thanks to FOP’s efforts and generosity of contributors, FOP raised one-third of the total cost required to construct the Beach Safety Center/Lifeguard Tower project, which included turning the ditch into a beckoning boardwalk that provides safe beach access from the street.

In 1964, Gardner Stevens, Del Mar Chief Lifeguard, built the city’s first lifeguard tower at the 17th Street Beach with his own hands and the help of his friend, Jim Baker, Del Mar Fire Chief. By 2008, with both the department and number of beach visitors having grown over the past 44 years, the structure was in a dangerous state of disrepair. Obviously, the facility needed some help from its friends: Friends of the Powerhouse!

Eager to maintain the lifeguard service’s admirable safety record, FOP initiated a series of fundraisers. In addition, the group aggressively sought grants and donations, selling hand-painted tiles, as well as initiating ongoing contribution opportunities such as personalized bricks and planks for the boardwalk and naming rights within the building.

On June 27, 2012, four years after the campaign began, the Beach Safety Center/Lifeguard Tower celebrated its Grand Opening. The efforts of Friends of the Powerhouse and the City of Del Mar earned an award.

Next to the Center, FOP created a history wall and the Bill Teague Memorial Garden. An unsafe and unsightly drainage trench was replaced by a boardwalk to enhance the beauty of the new, safe pedestrian entrance to the beach. Opportunities still exist to support improvements and activities of Friends of the Powerhouse via purchase of a commemorative plank along the side of the boardwalk entrance to the beach. Please see our Buy a Brick or Plank tab for further information.

Over time, FOP has contributed several lifeguard rescue boats, beach wheelchairs for disabled beachgoers, and lifeguard safety equipment. FOP has also provided bike racks, outside sinks, and other items needed for the Center to better serve the residents of Del Mar and surrounding communities.

2001: Upgraded Tot Lot

Nestled within the scenic Powerhouse Community Park, the Tot Lot is a barefoot- and kid-friendly “park within a park” boasting swings, slides, and climbing equipment. Thanks to FOP’s commitment and contributions, the upgraded Tot Lot is a vast improvement over the original venue built in the 1990s.

FOP has also made enhancements to Seagrove Park including:

      • Benches
      • Outdoor shower and drinking fountains
      • Landscaping
      • Bike racks
      • Train wall to educate and safety barrier for railroad tracks

1999: Powerhouse Restoration

The energy and commitment of what was then called the Powerhouse Restoration Committee were emblematic of successful efforts to come. The Committee, which as it grew over the years would include various City Council members, was spearheaded by longtime Del Mar resident Barbara Harper, founding President . A consensus builder, Barbara gathered together disparate members of the community who united behind the effort to enhance Del Mar’s exceptional quality of life.

In just two years, the group raised sufficient funds to support the detailed restoration of the old powerhouse into the Powerhouse Community Center at 1658 Coast Boulevard. Many people came together to celebrate a Grand Opening on December 4, 1999.

Since then, FOP has raised funds to support what quickly became recognized as a civic treasure. Continued FOP monetary support has ensured upkeep of the Powerhouse Community Center and surrounding public areas. Maintenance and enhancements have helped attract increased City facility rentals for a multitude of uses, including senior activities, weddings and other special events, gatherings and more. Rental proceeds go to City coffers.

FOP continues to support Maintenance and Enhancements for the Powerhouse Community Center

      • $50,000 for building maintenance for first 2 years
      • Public bathrooms (original and refurbished)
      • Heating and sound systems
      • Original furnishings and replacements
      • Refurbished kitchen and interior bathrooms
      • Elevator for handicap access

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