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Rancho Santa Margarita Landmark Gets a Makeover

Lago Santa Margarita gets a facelift after 25 years; it should provide a more pleasant pedestrian experience, says SAMLARC.

What will Rancho Santa Margarita look like in 20 years? You’re about to find out, at least along Lago Santa Margarita.

Recent renovation of the lake site began last week with construction work that will shape its appearance probably for the next couple of decades.

The man-made lake is one of the most visible landmarks in the city, but has been showing its age from 25 years of wear and tear.

“To keep SAMLARC home values competitive with the newer communities like Ladera Ranch and upcoming communities such as Rancho Mission Viejo, it is important that SAMLARC update amenities to reflect appropriate standards and aesthetics for 2013 and forward,” responded Candice Fullenkamp, who is executive director of SAMLARC—the Santa Margarita Landscape and Recreation Corporation.  

“The lakeshore improvements were designed to maintain the desirability of the community and promote community pride.”

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The addition of pavers and seating walls are supposed to enhance the pedestrian experience, and the aesthetics will be improved by new plantings adjacent to the walking path. Handicap accessibility is expected to improve as well with the addition of two criss-crossing paths when the entire facelift is complete.

One of the most visible differences will be the staging area for the annual Christmas tree; it will be closer to the lake.

Work should be completed by Nov. 16. It began on Aug. 20. SAMLARC indicated every attempt will be made to maintain normal pedestrian traffic around the lake during the rebuild, though there might be “a day or two when thru access will not be available.”

Fullenkamp said the concrete walkway was cracking and separating along the lake edge, turf has been badly damaged by geese and the plant material within planters is mature and in the decline stage. The stairway along Mercado del Lago, which is also part of the reconstruction, is also in need of repair.

“The lakeshore is SAMLARC’s most heavily utilized amenity by owners, guests and the general public,” Fullenkamp said. “It is in essence a private amenity that serves as a public benefit.”

The improvement, part of a 2008 master plan, has a second phase as well, called the Lake View project, which is to begin in the first quarter of 2013 if aproved by the board of directors. That will deal with the area that’s closer to Santa Margarita Parkway on the south end of the lake.

The following work will take place:

Lake Shore Project (completed by Nov. 16)

  • Removing and replacing the concrete walkway adjacent to the south end of the lake.
  • A new seasonal tree/flagpole planting area
  • Adjacent landscape planter areas
  • Stone veneer on the stair walls
  • New hand rails

Lake View Project (first quarter 2013)

  • Shrubs and tree landscaping on the east side next to the vacant liquor store
  • A new plaza area at the top of the stairs at the corner of the Mercado del Lago’s entrance
  • New concrete walkways from the new sidewalk on Santa Margarita Parkway down to the lakeshore area
  • Stone veneer on the stair walls
  • New seat walls
  • New sod, plants and trees

Contruction is expected to continue weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., occasionally to 7 p.m., with the possibility of some Saturdays.

The designs were approved in March, 2011, construction plans were approved at the Jan. 24, 2012 board of directors meeting. The contractor, Hoss Construction, was selected in August.

Janet Whitcomb August 30, 2012 at 02:47 AM
What sort of costs are involved?
Charles August 30, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Use jail labor or community service from drunk drivers. Cool Hand Luke style.
Ross August 30, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I agree with the bird droppings. It's disguisting and smells rancid. Not only do you have to watch for dog crap,you have to look out for the bird droppings. It's nice to look at the ducks and swans but not worth the trouble.
Dennis Moss August 31, 2012 at 12:45 AM
SAMLARC appreciates the comments from residents and visitors of the Lakeshore. Daily maintenance for the removal of wildlife feces is conducted on the Lakeshore walkway and mercado area. Controlling of the wildlife population is a challenge due to their protected status. Enforcement of wildlife feeding is also a daily task of staff and security personnel. "No feeding geese and ducks" signage is posted throughout the Lakeshore.
David Robertson September 09, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Nice to hear about the improvements. Ha - good point about the duck dookie. It IS disgusting. How much do duckie diapers cost? When is hunting season? JK.

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