After years of enduring their rickety, cramped wooden office and tower at San Buenaventura State Beach, lifeguards officially opened a spacious new building Wednesday.
The stylish $340,000 structure will enable district lifeguard Supt. Steve White and his staff to do what they do much more efficiently, he said. It will house administration, dispatch and operations functions for the seven area beaches the district serves.
At least 2 1/2 times larger than the old quarters next door, the building hastwo locker rooms, a first aid room, a two-car garage and improved beach visibility.
It replaces a 1960s building that functioned fine for the all-male seasonal lifeguard staff of 20 it was designed for, but proved inadequate for the 45 lifeguards of both sexes who use it during the peak summer months.
"We have an old broom closet that serves as a locker room," White said.
The 800,000 people who use San Buenaventura State Beach each year can expect to see improved emergency response time, he said.
The new building's spacious garage will enable equipment to be kept in a central location. That includes the jet ski-like craft lifeguards sometimes use for water rescues, which will be kept at the main headquarters instead of at McGrath State Beach. The garage also will double as a makeshift classroom for public safety efforts.
"It will be a storefront safety location in many ways," said Steve Treanor, district supervisor for the state parks' Channel Coast District.
Wednesday's grand opening, which drew dignitaries and fellow emergency personnel, marks the culmination of a 15-year effort by White to have a new facility built.
The building will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A photo montage of lifeguard activities will be on display, and free coloring books for kids and tide tables for adults are available.