By Rita Robinson | LB Indy
With a $1.4 million bid in hand, the Laguna Beach Unified School District will ask the city to ante-up 70 percent, or $980,000, to repair and improve the dilapidating high school tennis courts, Dean West, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, told school board members Tuesday.
Deciding how to repair the highly used courts has been in dispute since 2008 due to sporadic negotiations between the two public entities and disagreements about the most cost-effective approach to maintain them.
The latest estimate is more than the city bargained for, City Manager John Pietig said Wednesday. “The city started under the impression that the courts could be refurbished,” Pietig said. The original price started at $320,000, he said, and then nearly doubled to $620,000. The city agreed to contribute 70 percent or $435,000 under a joint-use agreement with the district in 2013 due to high-use of the Park Avenue courts by city residents.
That was last October, prior to estimates for courts with post-tensioned slabs. On post-tensioned courts, concrete slabs are fitted with a network of steel cables that can be adjusted to prevent expansion and cracking. The proposed improvement also requires replacing the wheelchair ramp, which adds to the cost. Repairing a retaining wall on the north side of the courts recently added another $300,000 to the bottom line, said West. The initial estimate low-balled the project, he said.
The city agreed to keep the courts in as good a shape as the other 12 city courts, which are repaired as cracks arise, Pietig said. Repairing the cracks, resurfacing and finishing with a textured coating would cost $640,000, the city estimated earlier this year.
“Now the district is asking for $800,000 more to complete the courts and the retaining wall,” said Pietig. “I’m not sure it’s worth the extra money and it’s typically more than we spend on other city courts.” The city council will review the request in January, he said.
The school district received the million-dollar-plus bid to install five post-tensioned courts from CS Legacy Construction in Chino. Restructuring the courts put the project into the new facility category rather than a repair project. As a new facility, the project now requires a review by a state-approved architect group and replacing a wheelchair ramp according to American Disabilities Act improvements. Redoing the ramp added another $200,000 to the cost, said West. The sixth court at the high school is already a post-tensioned court.
Resurfacing the courts without installing the more costly post-tensioned slabs, city officials maintain, will avoid the ancillary ADA costs.
The district will delay awarding the bid to CS Legacy until city officials make their decision, West said. If the city does not agree, West said another approach will be presented to the school board.
Theresa O’Hare, who was attending her last school board meeting as an outgoing member, said her concern is how long the city and the council will take to respond.
“The intent wasn’t to rush out there to approve it,” West said at the meeting. The school district is still committed to installing post-tensioned courts, he said. Last February, the district and the city agreed to “initiate” repairing the courts and ferreting out costs.
CS Legacy’s bid will cover installing post-tensioned playing surfaces on five courts at the high school. Fences and the gates will be replaced with vinyl-coated chain-link fencing, which includes poles, mesh and windscreen. In addition to making the courts wheelchair accessible, improvements will also include adding lights, benches and repairing retaining walls and drainage. Wish-list items include a shade structure for the courts and lighting on two courts, which brings the total estimate to $1.8 million.
Apart from the high school courts, there are 12 others in town, including six at Alta Laguna Park that have post-tensioned slabs due to underlying soils conditions, according to a city report earlier this year. Each court is resurfaced every three years at $3,000 per court. Disrepair at the high school courts is due to lack of maintenance, the city report says.