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Port's impact on South Bay cities seen in art, recreation, public developments

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From Point Loma in San Diego to the shores of Imperial Beach, the Port of San Diego has had an impact on a large portion of the county. The Port's jurisdiction covers 3,415 acres of land and 3,402 acres of water, which includes 33 miles of scenic waterfront along San Diego Bay and 403 acres of beachfront in Imperial Beach.

San Diego is by far the largest city on the Port tidelands, which consist of five member cities -- Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego. However, the Port has completed several projects in all of its cities. These projects add economic impact, help protect sensitive environmental areas, or add cultural and recreational amenities.

The Port's most recent project in the South Bay is the Palm Avenue Street End project in Imperial Beach. Completed in January, the $2.8 million project transformed the end of Palm Avenue into a park-like setting for ocean viewing. Centered in the new plaza is the 18-foot tall bronze sculpture, "The Spirit of Imperial Beach," by the late A. Wasil.

In addition to beautifying the area, this project added important safety and environmental features. A new stormwater pump station was installed and emergency ramps were added to provide direct access to the beach. The American Public Works Association's San Diego & Imperial Counties Chapter recently selected it as the 2009 Project of the Year.

In National City, the Port recently completed a $1.7 million project to replace the public launch ramp at Pepper Park. The original ramp, built in 1969, had outgrown its use and was replaced with a larger, eight-lane launch ramp and two 10-foot-wide boarding floats.

In Chula Vista, discussions continue on the redevelopment of the waterfront. The Port is working closely with the city and Pacifica Cos. on a possible land swap that will open up the area for mixed use. In 2008, the Port completed a demolition project at the former BF Goodrich site that resulted in the removal of 63 industrial buildings. The Port will soon begin a project to extend H Street all the way down to the bayfront.

Coronado also recently underwent some improvements with the help of the Port. The Port contributed to the development of Linear Park, along the Glorietta Bay waterfront, and more recently completed a project to replace the public boat dock at the Coronado Ferry Landing.

South Bay cities on Port tidelands offer great venues for strolling along the waterfront, picnicking or savoring a freshly caught seafood dinner. The Tin Fish on the Imperial Beach Pier and South Bay Fish & Grill at the Chula Vista Marina are just two of the many seafood restaurants. There's also regional Mexican cuisine at Candelas on the Bay and authentic Italian fare at Il Fornaio, both in Coronado, and just about everything from ice cream to Greek gyros.

To see these and other restaurants on Port tidelands in the South Bay, go to www.thebigbay.com. Many restaurants are offering special discounts on meals, extended happy hours and other offers. Submitted by Marguerite Elicone for the Port of San Diego

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