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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 1:31 am | Fair 53º


Ceremony Marks New Bridge, Entrance at Casa Dorinda in Montecito

Retirement community was affected by both the Thomas Fire and the Jan. 9 Debris Flows

Bridge and stone entrance to Casa Dorinda. Click to view larger
A new bridge and entrance were formally unveiled Thursday at the Casa Dorinda retirement community in Montecito. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

With a champagne toast and a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, the new entrance and bridge to Casa Dorinda in Montecito were unveiled on Thursday.

The project called for the demolition of a one-way bridge for outgoing traffic and constructing a new, two-way bridge across Montecito Creek.

The makeover transforms the area into a grand corridor lined with new landscape, and includes a 5-foot-wide raised pedestrian path located on the south side of the bridge, allowing staff and residents access to the Hot Springs/Olive Mill roads triangle.

The additional bridge to the north side of the campus will remain and be used primarily for service vehicle access.

The Casa Dorinda entrance and bridge, which are open, are the first major construction part of an estimated $40 million Bliss Expansion Project, a master plan to add new residential units and a new dining space, redesign the open space and recreation areas, and reconfigure the main entrance.

The project is expected to be complete in 2020, according to Casa Dorinda’s spokesperson, Rayna Davis.

The significance of the gathering was rooted not only in the completed milestone of the Bliss Expansion Project, and in the champagne toast to all who made it possible, but also in the healing of the community in the aftermath of January’s deadly debris flows.

Major destruction occurred outside Casa Dorinda’s front gates, and the campus at 300 Hot Springs Road was in the midst of the planned renovation and construction project when the storm hit.

“After the debris flow, we felt it was important to try to help make a statement to all of Montecito to help on the road to recovery,” Chief Executive Brian McCague told Noozhawk. “Our hope was that people coming through this intersection, and seeing this, would give some hope of recovery for all of Montecito.”

People presenting large check as a donation. Click to view larger
Casa Dorinda donated $10,000 to the Montecito Fire Protection District in gratitude for their harrowing efforts during the Thomas Fire in December and the subsequent debris flow. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Some of the new bridge is made from the sandstone rocks that rolled down the mountain slopes above Montecito during the massive January mudflows and flash flooding.

“For the bridge and walls, we shipped them and shaped them right off of our property, and a number of them came down from the debris flow,” McCague said of the rocks, adding that the previous bridge was built in 1918 and deemed structurally unsafe.

Casa Dorinda is a 48-acre private retirement community owned and operated by the Montecito Retirement Association.

Casa Dorinda residents sat side by side Thursday with Montecito Retirement Association board members joining McCague and Barbara Hadley, Casa Dorinda resident and Montecito Retirement Association resident representative, on hand to cut the red ribbon and welcome more than 100 community members for the formal first look of the entrance and bridge.

Special thanks were offered to Steinfeldt Associates, Cearnal Collective LLP, ProWest Constructors and Michael Caccese, a civil engineer. 

McCague announced a $10,000 donation by Casa Dorinda to the Montecito Fire Protection District in gratitude for their harrowing efforts during the Thomas Fire in December and subsequent debris flow.

“It’s our token of appreciation,” he said.

A Montecito fire engine was the first vehicle to cross the new bridge at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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