State funds approved more than eight months ago to restore Padre Dam were delivered to the City of San Diego Wednesday, but the project will drag on for at least another year because an endangered bird nests in the area, city officials said.
Assemblyman Larry Stirling (R-San Diego)--who sponsored the bill last year that asked for the $200,000 state grant for repairs to the crumbling 170-year-old structure--hand-delivered a check for that amount to a San Diego City Council committee Wednesday.
But because the least Bell's vireo, a songbird recently placed on the federal endangered species list, nests along the San Diego River's banks, the project faces a complicated permit process. That process includes approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, said George Loveland, director of the city Park and Recreation Department.
The dam is a centerpiece of joint city-county plans to develop the 4,400-acre Mission Trails Regional Park near Santee and San Carlos. The actual rebuilding of the stone-and-adobe structure on the eastern end of Father Junipero Serra Trail will probably not begin until September, 1987, said Lisa McNeal, a city engineer overseeing the project.
"The problem is due to the breeding time of the least Bell's vireo," McNeal said.
The City Council is confident, however, that the project to save the dam from eroding into the river will be completed soon.
"We got the money, it's up to us to take charge of the project and get it going," said Councilwoman Judy McCarty.