Main Beach closer to getting new play equipment

Laguna's iconic lifeguard tower was the inspiration for the proposed new Main Beach Park play equipment, due to be ready for kids to use before the end of the year.

The Planning Commission approved Aug. 15 the project proposed by city staff and designed by Coast Recreation Inc. to replace the dilapidated and unsafe — some portions have been boarded up — play equipment, originally installed in 1998. Approval was recommended by the city's Recreation Committee.

"This is a project that we have worked on with the city for a long time," said Rebecca Meekma, committee member and parent of two children.

"We are very excited that Coast Recreation replicated the lifeguard tower for the children of Laguna to play on. This will be a great addition to Main Beach for all our families," she said.

The City Council is scheduled to review the contract for the project at its Sept. 4 meeting. Construction is expected to begin shortly thereafter and be completed in December.

The commission's approval of the design and a coastal development permit were not appealed to the City Council.

A truncated Planning Commission — two-members were absent — approved the design, which includes bucket swings appropriate for 2- to 5-year-olds, slides for age groups 2 to 5 and 5 to 12, tunnels, bridges and a delightful concrete dolphin for youngsters to clamber on instead of the rock stairs previously proposed.

Sustainable materials approved by the commission include synthetic wood; tightly-woven, polyester-wrapped, galvanized steel-reinforced cables; heavy-duty aluminum; steel decks; coated swing chains, handholds, pipe barriers, wheels and rings; and polyethylene slides, tunnels and roofs, according to the staff analysis by city Associate Planner Wendy Jung.

"We are excited about the project, especially when you look at the significant deterioration of the equipment there now," said Ben Siegel, director of community services. "We got great feedback from locals at two workshops on Aug. 1 and 2 at the site that was incorporated into the design."

The equipment will be set on sand and surrounded by "pebble flex," a bright blue material composed of polyurethane pebbles bonded with a clear, flexible, two-part polyurethane binder.

At its highest point, the tower will stand at 14 feet, 5 inches high. Maximum height for the swings is 7 feet.

The new play area will have the same height and footprint as the current area, 3,050 square feet.

Proposed colors include shades of white, light gray, blue, light blue, brown and tan, according to the analysis.

The design will incorporate custom panels with beach- and ocean-safety and marine life information on the interior and exterior walls of the tower and play equipment.

GeoSoils Inc. has determined that the replacement equipment will be reasonably safe from shoreline erosion, wave attack and flooding over the life of the equipment, according to a written report submitted to the city.

The report also stated it is highly unlikely that new shore protection will be required over the next several decades to protect the equipment.

The proposed replacement of existing playground equipment is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act provisions, complies with Americans with Disabilities Act and American Society for Testing and Materials standards and the criteria for the certified Local Coastal Program.

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