A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. that morning at the project site, located at 585 Harbor Lane in San Diego, near the southwest corner of Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway (map). The park is being built at the site of the former Harbor Seafood Mart.
Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Scott Peters will be joined by his fellow commissioners, Congressman Bob Filner, San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, City of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, City of San Diego Councilmember Todd Gloria, City of Coronado Councilmember Mike Woiwode and San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.Also attending will be Bob Kelly, President and CEO of the San Diego Foundation, as well as Bruce Blakley, former foundation board member.
The park gets its name from its benefactors, Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco. Mr. Ruocco was a prominent San Diego architect and credited with starting the modern architectural movement here. He designed dozens of private homes around the region and several prominent public buildings. He worked on the County Administration Building, the San Diego Civic Theater, the Design Center in Hillcrest, the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and many other projects. Mrs. Ruocco was a noted interior decorator and a professor of art at San Diego State University.
The couple established a trust more than 25 years ago to create a public park in San Diego that would feature outstanding urban design. The trust is administered by the San Diego Foundation, which awarded the Port of San Diego a $3.5 million grant from the Ruocco Fund in November 2008.
The park is designed by Dennis Otsuji of ONA and Associates, Inc., a San Diego firm. Otsuji has worked on local landscape architecture projects at the Stephen Birch Aquarium and Liberty Station. With quiet contemplative areas, a variety of trees and an artwork by local artist Roman de Salvo, the design incorporates many of the elements that the Ruoccos requested when they established the park fund.
The artwork by de Salvo will provide a dramatic entrance to park goers at the corner of Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. It includes an overhead web of eucalyptus tree limbs that have been splayed and spliced together.
The Port of San Diego is contributing $3.8 million for the park. Funding was allocated in the port's Capital Improvement Program for a basic park. The Ruocco donation is being used for the park's design and upgrades such as the garden areas, upgraded hardscape, benches, public art and lighting. The port's Capital Improvement Program funding will also cover the partial demolition of the Harbor Seafood Mart building, which is estimated to cost $1 million. The park is being built by Ledcor Construction, Inc.
Ruocco Park will be the port's 18th public park. As a provider of recreational opportunities for the region, the Port of San Diego has developed 150 acres of public parkland along the waterfront of San Diego Bay and the shoreline of Imperial Beach.
Along with its parks, the port has created miles of pathways that weave throughout the parks along the water's edge. For anglers, fishing piers are found in five locations. The parks are also ideal for hosting corporate events, weddings or reunions.