New Estancia High School aquatic center expected to open in 2020


The long-delayed Estancia High School aquatic center project is officially underway with a projected 2020 completion for the pool, but student athletes will again be temporarily displaced during construction.

A unanimous vote of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board Tuesday night authorized the negotiation and award of contracts for the design and construction of the center, priced at $9 million.

Assistant Supt. of Business Services Tim Holcomb said district staff have found a contractor to build the pool “within the budget that we believed was appropriate for the project.”


The center was originally approved at $7 million in 2016, but higher-than-expected bids resulted in major scheduling setbacks and a subsequent budget increase.

The full cost will come from the Capital Outlay Projects fund, an account set up for capital expenditures, including facilities improvement projects.

Beginning in the latter part of the school year, as demolition begins, Estancia’s aquatic sports will temporarily hold practices at another district school’s pool.

The displacement will last “a little more than one semester,” Holcomb said, possibly less than the six-month interruption caused by the premature draining of the pool last September.

Supt. Fred Navarro previously said the district would investigate but keep confidential who OK’d the draining. The pool was re-filled earlier this year for a cost of $104,000 following complaints from the community and an online petition that garnered more than 600 supporters.

The existing 25-meter pool must be removed during demolition because the service lines for utilities overlap with the new pool’s location, district spokeswoman Annette Franco said Wednesday.

Trustee Charlene Metoyer commented that the principals have been “very collaborative” throughout the process.

“I commend them for working through these tough issues that then become emotional for students and parents,” Metoyer said. “But from the professional standpoint … everybody got a pool, everybody had to move around … we all have to share sometimes.”

Estancia is the last of the district’s four comprehensive high schools to get an Olympic-sized pool, construction for which will begin in early 2019. With the board’s approval Tuesday, staff will negotiate a contract with Tustin-based Westberg + White Architects and Planners, which has agreed to hire a pool architect from Yorba Linda-based California Waters to complete the design.

In addition to the 50-meter Olympic size pool, plans include coaches’ offices, restrooms, a snack bar, a lunch area, team rooms and shade structures.

Upon completion of the design development — in approximately one month, according to the agenda — staff will finalize a fixed-price contract with California Waters for the pool’s construction, and the remaining contracts will be bid on and awarded after the design is approved by the Division of the State Architect, or DSA.

Trustee Martha Fluor emphasized that the district is “at the mercy of the (DSA),” which oversees construction in K-12 schools and whose timelines are unknown, but Holcomb reassured the board that staff is confident in the new schedule.

“[DSA’s] process can be time-consuming,” Holcomb said, “but we believe we can meet the schedule of having the pool ready for students in the early part of 2020 as we had hoped.”

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