Letter: It is possible

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On March 12, the City Council will discuss options for improved aquatics in Laguna. Rather than work with the city on a solution that meets the needs of both residents and students, Laguna Beach Unified School District approved and funded a 50-meter $16 million pool on the site of the current 25-meter pool. A poor use of resident property taxes.

The city funds nearly 97% of the total pool operations cost because they carry all staffing costs and the 70/30 city/school cost sharing. By approving the Olympic pool, without participation from the city, the district will increase student availability by nearly seven times, from 30% of a 25-meter pool to 100% of a 50-meter pool! An extreme overbuild.

The district is trying to force the city to participate in a pool of their design, size, cost, and location by moving forward without city consent. LBUSD gets $.26 of each property tax dollar and the city gets $.25. The city and the school district, taking half our taxes, should leverage services and facilities in support of ALL residents. So other than complain what can residents do?

-Ask the city to reject the demand by LBUSD as it doesn’t meet resident needs (no “wading” pool, for example), doesn’t address program goals, and is not neighborhood-compatible.

-Ask the city to formally object to the independent LBUSD plan as unnecessarily impactful to the community and fiscally irresponsible

-Ask the city to prioritize the construction of a dedicated community pool

-Ask LBUSD to resize their pool to 35-38 meters saves $8 million, exceeds all CIF requirements and accommodates all home games

-Ask the city and school district to work together for residents and students.

Given 100% use of a 35 meter pool that fits in the current space, the district would materially increase student availability, and the city could accommodate the increasing demand from city programs at the new community pool. Sharing “unused time” between the two entities could continue; there would be ongoing redundancy with two pools, and, assuming coordinated construction, there would be no downtime.

This approach requires compromise and cooperation between the city, the school district, and residents. It’s happened before, and I’d like to think it is possible. Speak up.

Gary Kasik, Laguna Beach

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