City Unveils Proposed Design For New Belmont Pool, Acknowledges It Has No Funding Currently Identified To Build It But Says It's Developing Strategy

Presentation acknowledges project's ultimate cost will increase as construction costs escalate over time (will likely exceed currently budgeted $103 million); Councilwoman Price reiterates her support for rebuild at presently proposed location in her district is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(April 9, 2016) -- City-hired architects unveiled their proposed design for a replacement Belmont Plaza pool at a public meeting this morning (April 9) at LB's Golden Sails hotel.

The illustrations below are included in a Power Point presentation shown at the meeting that can be viewed at this link.

[Scroll down for further below.]

Image via City of LB Power Point

Looking west from spectator seating. Image via City of LB Power Point

Looking south from 10 meter diving platform. Image via City of LB Power Point

View from the beach, looking east. Image via City of LB Power Point

View from Belmont Pier parking lot. Image via City of LB Power Point

Image via City of LB Power Point

By our rough (unofficial) reckoning based on the image immediately above, the top of the building's roofline would reach nearly two stories higher than the previous pool building.

Additional images are in the Power Point at at this link.

A number of representatives of LB's aquatics and diving community attended the meeting. The design was generally politely received (no giant audible "wows" but an otherwise mainly positive reception.) One of the first speakers expressed concern about the amount of light coming through the translucent roof, indicating it might disorient divers. One man commented the pool looked like a great place for seagulls to land (and survey the scene) and thus do seagull-things on the roof (implying but not saying "poop.") Some attending the meeting were overheard to voice concerns about maintenance costs.

City officials scheduled the meeting a few days before City Hall's planned release (April 14) of an Environmental Impact Report legally required to analyze alternatives to the proposed project. The Power Point presentation, delivered in part by Assistant City Manager Tom Modica and Director of Development Services Amy Bodek, acknowledged that although the City has identified funding for entitlements and construction documents, the City doesn't currently have funding identified to actually build the replacement pool. It indicates that city staff is developing a strategy for this (further on this below.)



The City's Power Point presentation effectively acknowledged that the pool's cost will likely exceed the $103 million budgeted by the City Council for the project in October 2014. City staff indicated construction cost escalation would affect the total cost (but didn't say by how much. The project must first proceed through Planning Commission, City Council and Coastal Commission hearings to gain approvals...with possible appeals. The Power Point presentation acknowledged that pool's final cost won't be certain until the City and Coastal Commission approve the design and the project is bid...and didn't offer an estimate of what the cost would be that point.

One Power Point slide indicated "prequalification/bid award" pending identification of funds and dependent on the price of oil as "earliest spring/summer 2018." It indicated facility construction at the earliest from fall 2018 through spring 2020.

LB Mayor Robert Garcia, scheduled to provide welcoming remarks, arrived after the meeting began, spoke briefly and didn't discuss financial details; Councilwoman Suzie Price was also present and spoke briefly (further below.)



Assistant City Manager Modica told the audience that the new pool will be a citywide asset, one that can be and will be used by residents citywide and likely regionally.

Following the meeting, Mr. Modica indicated that the City may ask L.A. County to include the Belmont Pool rebuild among projects that would be funded if County voters approve a still-to-be-written debt bond ballot measure, possibly for parks and recreational items, that County Supervisors may put on the November 2016 ballot.



The pool's high cost stems in part from its proposed location in the same liquefaction-prone seismic area just east of the Belmont Pier where the City discovered that the former Belmont Pool had serious seismic deficiencies (and demolished it.) Councilwoman Price told the April 9 meeting audience that she is "deeply committed to the pool" and underscored that she means "at this specific location."

Area resident Susan Miller, joined by a number of park and open space advocates, have suggested that the pool be rebuilt in another location on firmer ground and away from the threat sea level rise. They argue that this would cost less, conserve Tidelands funds and simultaneously create a newly created open space shoreline park in the now-cleared area.

When Ms. Miller and others suggested this in urging alternative locations for the pool during a 2015 meeting (held to discuss proposed architectural elements), Councilwoman Price said the Council had already settled the matter by voting to approve the pool rebuild at the Belmont Plaza area location.

LB's Tidelands currently produce less revenue than in previous years due to lower-than-previous prices for oil. The City uses its Tidelands revenue to pay for a number of other LB beach/shoreline projects, prompting concern by some that the costly pool rebuild will consume too large a portion of Tidelands funds, preventing or delaying other projects including the improvements at the Belmont Pier and other beach/shoreline areas. The decision on how to allocate LB's Tidelands revenue is ultimately made by the full City Council, not just LB's two shoreline Councilmembers. 3rd dist. Councilwoman Price has strongly supported allocating a sizable portion of Tidelands revenue for the pool (which is in her district); 2nd district incumbent Suja Lowenthal has supported this (to our knowledge with no objections from any of the three candidates seeking to succeed her in the coming months.)

On April 14, City Hall plans to release a draft EIR on the proposed pool rebuild which must legally consider alternatives...although it's not yet clear if those will include alternative locations.

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