About 40 people attended the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Wake Up! Newport meeting Thursday at the Friends Room at the NB Central Library.
Laura Davick, founder and director of external affairs for Crystal Cove Alliance, was the guest speaker.
The alliance is the official nonprofit partner of Crystal Cove State Park and is dedicated to preserving the cultural, natural and historic resources of Crystal Cove.
Davick spoke about the two most common topics people ask her about: When the renovation of the cottages will be finished and how to get a cottage rental.
She briefly spoke about the rental process and provided a few tips for reserving a cottage.
The renovation project is a huge undertaking, she said.
Together, the alliance and state parks have renovated 29 historic beachfront cottages that now open for overnight stays. Another 17 cottages still need to be restored and that’s what she’s focusing on in phase three of the project.
They are being restored back to the period of 1935 to 1955, she explained.
“We’re not just restoring cottages and creating this ‘cottage-chic’ experience, everything from the furnishings to the paint colors to the window treatments all the way down to the floors, are all historically accurate,” Davick said.
She also mentioned Crystal Cove earning the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award in 2007.
This phase will cost $26 million, she said.
Half of that goes toward infrastructure and preparing the site, like stabilizing the bluffs, creating structures building retaining walls, paths, and more.
The other half is for the actual restoration of the cottages.
They have collected about $9 million so far, she added.
“That’s a pretty good start,” she said, noting they have not launched the official campaign yet.
“We are working through all of the necessary milestones to get us to the point to be able to start that project,” like obtaining a Coastal Development Permit and acquiring the correct tools, she said.
It’s a huge project, especially for a small organization like the Crystal Cove Alliance to take on, she said, and they need all the help they can get.
“It’s going to take a lot of partners in our community to come forward and to give us a hand and help with the creative strategies and innovative ideas to complete this project,” she said.
Davick also spoke about several educational programs and facilities, including a film and media center, park and marine research facility, cultural center, outdoor educational commons, and more. There are also a few cottages are dedicated for educational purposes, she added.
The Park and Marine Facility supports scientific study that furthers understanding of Crystal Cove’s natural, cultural and historic resources.
They have also partnered with Newport Landing for a program called “Citizen Science Cruises,” which brings eighth through 12th grade students out on the water to study Marine Protected Areas.
The kids use digital fishing poles with cameras on the end to document everything in the underwater park, Davick explained.
The Berns Environmental Study Loop was opened on Jan. 1. It finishes off the 35-acre restoration project on the south end of the park. The project includes an amphitheater, student staging areas and eight science field learning stations.
This area has programs that work with after-school groups, high school, the Braille Institute, and more.
“What better classroom could you have than a place like Crystal Cove to inspire children and students about the importance of preserving our natural resources?” Davick she asked.
She invited the crowd to the tree lighting “Deck the Cove” event on Saturday. The event will feature Santa Claus, carolers, activities and other festivities and a holiday bazaar. The bazaar starts at 10 a.m.., other activities start at 3 p.m., Santa arrives at 4 p.m., and the tree lights up the beach at 5:15 p.m.
Davick also encouraged people to attend one of the monthly historic district walking tours that she leads. The tours are the third Sunday of every month (excepting December) starts at noon and ends at 2 p.m. She talks about the history of Crystal Cove and leads the group inside a few of the cottages.
“We have a lot of work on our plate,” Davick said. “And we have a lot more to do.”
But it is all worth it because Crystal Cove is an important resource to protect and care for, she said. It’s “very near and dear” to her heart, she said.
“(Crystal Cove) is one of Orange County’s greatest treasures that we have and we are so fortunate to have it here,” Davick said. “We all need to be part of protecting what’s in our backyard.”
For more information, visit crystalcovebeachcottages.org and newportbeach.com.