Oceanside CA— Things will be changing around the Oceanside Harbor, the first of December, as the Oceanside SEA Center received City Council approval of the lease to occupy the building Helgren’s Sport Fishing has occupied for almost 40 years. The lease was signed on Monday and approved in closed session of the Council meeting, Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re excited,” said Captain Joe Cacciola, Owner/Operator of Sea Star Charters and part of the partnership the forms the Oceanside SEA Center, about finally getting approval for the center. “We are more than happy to finally see this project moving forward.” continued the Captain, “This is an exciting time not only for the SEA Center partners but for the community at large. We just want to make sure the Harbor management and the City are going to support us and this project as we move forward. We are going to need their support.”
Last year, the Oceanside Small Craft Harbor District put out a Request for Proposals(RFP) to be submitted no later than May 31, 2016. In August of last year, the Oceanside SEA Center was informed, after a review of the RFP’s submitted, they had been selected to negotiate a lease on the real property and dock space. On September 8, 2016, the group that forms the Oceanside SEA Center received an email from the city stating “there is a glitch in the process and we are handling it internally.” Since that time, the City had been in negotiations and trying to develop a compromise that would satisfy everyone involved.
In the compromise worked out by the City, the SEA(Science Education and Adventure) Center will get five of the six commercial docks that Helgren’s Sport Fishing now occupies. Helgren’s retains the prized 60′ long “V” dock, near Joe’s Crab Shack and will get use of the “Dolphin” dock, along the west side of the harbor. Helgren’s Sportfishing will move into and have a two-thirds of the Coast Guard Auxiliary building. The Coast Guard Auxiliary will occupy the other third of the building. [Click here for harbor map]. That building is being refurbished by the City of Oceanside. “In my opinion, the City has gone way beyond accommodating them [Helgren’s],” said Capt. Cacciola, a sentiment echoed by SEA Center partner, Captain Ernie Prieto, owner of Chubasco Sportfishing.
“For the Oceanside SEA Center partners, the real work begins. We want to make sure we live up to people’s expectations, our expectations, but they will have to give us time to develop that area because it has been neglected for many, many years and now we have to turn it around,” said Capt. Cacciola, “We have high standards. You can’t keep doing the same old thing decade after decade and hope to keep up. I think this project, at least that corner of the harbor, really advances us into this new century.”
Captain Prieto said he and his family are extremely excited to get this project moving forward. “I come from a family of small business owners. We are going to be leaving a tight-knit group in Ocean Beach/Point Loma, where we live now, which embraced us. We hope to bring those same ideals to Oceanside. We are excited to be a part of a business being run by three Oceanside residents.”
Oceanside SEA Center will have three boats with plans for two more. “As long as we can have the viable dock space. Not all docks are equal. They are not all the same, length or width or positioned correctly. Some are without power.”
December 1, 2017 is the date set for Oceanside SEA Center to take possession and begin renovation of the two-story, real property. Their plan includes some renovation of the existing property “tenant improvements” where PIER will occupy the top floor of the building. “We are going to spend some money there. We can’t actually change the structure of the building but we’re going to upgrade it. Make it a little more modern looking.” said Captain Cacciola during an interview in April.
They plan on building an external staircase so the people at PIER will have easy access without interfering with the business side of things. Install all new windows, doors, upgrade the lighting to energy-efficient LED lighting and include public art in and around the building. “We want to build an aquarium, living, live aquaria, right into the exterior wall of the building. Not a Birch type aquarium but not just some little tank. We are talking 6’x8′ or larger, a coastal habitat so it’s viewable from the sidewalk. You won’t have to walk into the building. You’re not going to have to pay to see this. You can imagine walking by with your family and the kids see this. People will be able to come inside where we will have other exhibits. We would like to include some of our exhibits in the hallway that runs down the center of the large retail building where the restaurants and other retail stores are located. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Also at the meeting, City Council approved two new ticketing kiosks along the harbor walkway. One near the lighthouse where Oceanside Adventures, currently operating out of the building which will house the SEA Center, will operate from and another on the northeast corner for Helgren’s Sportfishing, north of Joe’s Crab Shack.
To learn more about Helgren’s Sportfishing, visit their website [link]
To learn more about Oceanside Adventures, visit their website [link]
To learn more about the Oceanside Harbor, click [here]