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High construction bids delay new Estancia High School aquatic center

Construction of a new aquatic center for Estancia High School in Costa Mesa has been delayed because bids came in significantly higher than the project’s original $7-million budget.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District board decided Tuesday to disregard four bids ranging from about $7.5 million to $7.7 million.

The board’s decision sends the project back to district administrators for reconsideration and potential changes.

The project, which the board approved in 2016, was expected to start in August, school officials said earlier this year.

“We are analyzing the reasons for why the project appears to be more expensive than we expected,” district spokeswoman Annette Franco said in a statement Tuesday. “We are working to determine what revisions to make that still meet Estancia High School’s needs and stay as close to the budget as possible.

“We are aiming to limit the delay as best as possible and should know within the next few months.”

Timothy Holcomb, district assistant superintendent and chief operating officer, told the board Tuesday that the district hopes to keep the delay under six months. The aquatic center was originally scheduled to open in time for the fall 2018 sports season.

Holcomb said changes to the project could require state approval, which likely would delay the process.

“It is a significant issue to redesign any construction project that’s over budget,” he said.

The aquatic center was intended to include a new stainless-steel 50-meter pool — designed by Italian pool company Myrtha — as well as various support buildings, such as a coaches’ office, storage space and restrooms.

The center would replace some basketball courts on the Estancia blacktop.

It’s unclear whether the project, as originally envisioned, will come to fruition.

The campus’ existing pool — an L-shaped structure 25 yards long on one side and about 27 yards on the other — was slated to be filled in and replaced with an outdoor courtyard.

Estancia is the only Newport-Mesa comprehensive high school that doesn’t have an Olympic-size pool. Boosters have lamented that the current pool has enough space for only one team to practice at a time.

A larger pool, they said, would allow for bigger competitions, including national contests.

bradley.zint@latimes.com

Twitter: @BradleyZint

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