By Justin Swanson, Special to the Independent
The Laguna Beach City Council authorized spending $5.6 million to build a new lifeguard headquarters and public restrooms on Main Beach this week.
Since last year, about $1 million has already been spent on design and construction of the project, budgeted for $8.1 million, which has been in the works in various iterations since 1999.
Completion of the project at 175 N. Coast Highway, near the west end of Main Beach where the sea cliff begins, is projected for December 2013.
After Labor Day and the tourist influx recedes, city officials intend to assemble a temporary lifeguard facility and restrooms, which will take 25 working days to occupy. On Oct. 9 the current lifeguard headquarters will be demolished and construction of the new one will begin next January and finish by year end. A move-in period and the official opening are estimated for January 2014.
With regard to the duration of the project, City Manager John Pietig explained to council members, “We looked at it and realized that it would not be possible to do in nine months,” pushing the time frame to 15 months.
As for what will be installed in September, Project Director Wade Brown assures that the temporary units will not obstruct ocean views, describing them as two mobile offices located in front of, but across the street from, the movie theater. A temporary restroom trailer will be located north of the basketball courts, equipped with four fixtures in each male and female restroom.
Marine Safety Department Chief Kevin Snow described the main improvements in the new headquarters: the addition of a basement, giving the building two levels, will allow for a locker room, meeting room, and storage for diving and rescue gear in the lower area.
Furthermore, the design calls for the restoration of the bluff and increased views to the north, towards the tide pools.
In an effort to stay as “green” as possible, solar panels will be installed to power the headquarters electrically and to heat water.
Plans were completed in May this year and six bidders vied for the contract. Stronghold Engineering Inc. was selected, offering a bid of $4.3 million, the main big ticket item presented to City Council.
The temporary facilities are to be provided by ModSpace, which offered the lowest costing proposal.
The relocation of phone, cable, and camera equipment to the temporary facilities was amended to the original construction contract with Stronghold, as they will be handling those technologies in the new site anyway.
The other requests made of the council included the relocation of radio equipment (Advanced Electronics Inc.), construction management and design support from the original architect (Whitfield Associates), geotechnical observation (Geofirm), agreements with special inspection firms “on an as need basis,” funds for moving expenses and other miscellaneous costs, and the amendment of construction contracts and construction related services.
The project itself is a longtime coming as Councilwoman Toni Iseman alluded, thanking “those involved over the last 10 years.”
Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger moved in favor, and the vote was unanimous.