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Newport-Mesa OKs $2-million budget increase for delayed Estancia High aquatic center

Newport-Mesa OKs $2-million budget increase for delayed Estancia High aquatic center
A rendering shows Estancia High School’s planned aquatic center, which is estimated to cost $9 million. (File Illustration)

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District gave staff the green light Tuesday night to increase the budget by $2 million for the delayed aquatic center at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa.

The school board unanimously approved increasing the project’s budget to $9 million from $7 million. Trustees also directed staff to put the center out to bid as a design-build project, a method in which one agency creates the design and does the construction.

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Recent one-time funding from the state will help pay the cost, according to Jeff Trader, district chief financial officer.

The project includes an Olympic-size 50-meter pool, a coaches’ office, pool restrooms, a snack bar, site work and furnishings, a lunch area, a team room and shade structures. The team room and shade structures weren’t initially included in the project in 2016, when the estimated cost was $7 million.

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Bids will be taken in coming months, and a committee of experts and district staff will help score potential contractors before a recommendation is made to the school board.

Using the design-build method is expected to quicken the process and help the district complete the center in time for the 2019 swim season, said Tim Holcomb, district assistant superintendent and chief operating officer.

Estancia’s existing pool — an L-shaped structure 25 yards long on one side and about 27 yards on the other — was drained in September but may be ready for use earlier than the March target set at a Jan. 11 board meeting, Holcomb said. Pool lights will be installed this week, he added.

Clay Epperson, a parent and an aquatic booster at Estancia, commended the board for approving the budget Tuesday.

“I think you’re spending money wisely,” Epperson said. “There will be a lot more satisfaction with the community coming out at the other end, and in the long run, it’ll be cheaper.”

Higher-than-anticipated bids delayed groundbreaking on the center, which had been scheduled to open for the fall 2018 sports season.

Community members criticized Newport-Mesa for draining the existing pool before construction bids were completed for the new center.

An online petition created in December called on the district to refill the pool before the 2018 swim season. Getting it ready to reopen is expected to cost about $104,000.

Costa Mesa High School scoreboard

In other business Tuesday, trustees unanimously approved an agreement with Irvine-based Studio+ Architecture for design services regarding a scoreboard at the Costa Mesa High School varsity softball field.

The project is estimated to cost $11,110.

The architect will prepare construction documents to submit to the Division of the State Architect for approval.

Fencing projects

Trustees also unanimously approved an agreement with Studio+ Architecture for design services for new security fencing and administrative office renovations at Back Bay/Monte Vista High School in Costa Mesa.

The project is budgeted at $15,750, according to the district.

Mariners, Newport Heights and Wilson elementary schools were approved last year to begin designs for similar projects. Community meetings were held this month to share the district’s preliminary plans.

In past years, Newport-Mesa has completed fencing projects at Adams, Andersen, Victoria and Eastbluff elementary schools to help enhance security.

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