By Victoria Kertz | NB Indy
Demand for swimming lessons and other aquatic activities has pushed the city of Laguna Beach to determine if a second pool at an estimated cost of $15 million could be built at Lang Park. The nearly block-long park at 21540 Wesley Dr. was chosen for its proximity to South Coast Highway and public transit stops, but also because it has what no other available location does: space.
Student athletes and residents alike train and exercise in the existing community pool at 670 Park Ave., across from Laguna Beach High School. Hours vary depending on the day and time of year, with team practices starting as early as 5:30 a.m. and water polo games ending as late as 10 p.m.
The current pool is too small for Laguna Beach High School’s championship water polo teams, which have been practicing in the undersized pool for years, said Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson at a joint meeting of the City Council and the Laguna Beach Unified School District board in January.
The current pool is 82 feet by 75 feet, but Johnson said a future Lang Park pool would be 108 feet by 75 feet with a depth of seven feet, as conceptualized by Westberg + White, Inc., Tustin-based architects. “Not Olympic-size,” said Johnson, “but a good size that would also allow for 12 lanes of swimming space.” An Olympic-size pool is 164 feet by 82 feet and at least six feet seven inches deep. The newly proposed pool would be large enough and deep enough for the water polo team to compete in.
Adjacent to the larger pool, the city envisions a shallow teaching pool, with measurements of 21 feet by 25 yards, she said.
While Johnson reminded the audience that the pool and surrounding discussion was “very preliminary,” the City Council took its first formal step toward considering whether the idea is feasible on Feb. 7. The council authorized $80,000 for a geotechnical environmental investigation during a mid-year review of the budget. A firm to conduct the investigation has yet to be hired.
Preliminary plans also call for a parking “deck” to increase the existing 25-space lot and add locker rooms and offices on a lower level.
Lang Park’s existing facilities, including a community center, playground, tennis and basketball court would not be affected by a potential pool, Johnson confirmed. Only the grassy field space would be impacted, she said.
That space is used weekdays afterschool by about 20 members of the Boys and Girls Club’s Lang branch, which operates out of the former community multipurpose room. “We’re adaptable,” said club Executive Director Pam Estes, who was unaware of how much if any field space would remain.
Westberg + White Inc. prepared conceptual drawings of a pool at Lang Park for City Council and the Recreation Committee to view. The firm has not been contracted to do further work at this time.
A spokeswoman for Anneliese Schools, whose Aliso campus is within the city-owned park property, voiced concerns about noise and summertime parking, when the lot at Lang Park is frequented by beachgoers. “The current community pool, which is close to our Manzanita campus, generates a fair amount of noise in the neighborhood,” Anneliese spokeswoman Erin Sparkuhl wrote in an email.
School board trustee Jan Vickers acknowledged at the joint meeting that shouts, cheers, and game whistles from the current pool generates complaints from neighboring houses. Much needed public facilities are often a challenge to get built, she pointed out. As another example, she cited the city’s lack of success in finding a location for a skate park due to neighborhood resistance. “Nobody wants that next to their house.”
Should plans move forward for a second pool, the public will be informed of new developments and have an opportunity to comment, Johnson said.
School trustee Ketta Brown summarized the sentiment for a second pool. “If there is a glaring need in programs, it would be a pool,” she said. “If we build it, they will come.”
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