New lifeguard facility will include several upgrades

Laguna Beach lifeguards are making do with a temporary facility while their new $6 million headquarters is being built.

Lifeguards are using a trailer on a cobblestone area near Main Beach, across from the movie theater downtown, for day-to-day activities.

"It's providing what we need for our operations [including dispatch, first aid and communications]," Marine Safety Capt. Tom Trager said.

The new one-story station will occupy the same space on Main Beach as the former facility. It will also be the same size, 3,000 square feet, with attached public restrooms. The city's capital improvement fund, part of the general fund, is paying for the project.

The existing restroom facility will be turned into a natural bluff area. A temporary public restroom trailer is near the basketball courts, according to a project description on the city's website.

The basketball courts on Main Beach are open during construction, as is the pathway from the boardwalk to Heisler Park. A temporary stairway will be built for pedestrians to walk around the project.

Construction began in October with an original move-in scheduled for early 2014, Trager said. But according to project manager Wade Brown, the move-in date could be pushed back.

Part of a 48-inch diameter tunnel near a sewer lift station runs through a corner of the project site. The sewer lift station requires 20 feet of sheet piling to be installed. Prior attempts at installing the sheet piling, angled steel plating, were stopped, due to excessive noise and vibrations.

Brown did not say how much the project will be delayed. Engineers are working on another method to install the plating, he said.

The new facility will include training and briefing rooms and a place to treat stingray injuries using hot water, which is not available in the lifeguard towers.

Laguna Beach lifeguards staff 30 towers from Irvine Cove to the Montage Laguna resort during peak summer season, which begins in June once the high schools break for summer.

There are 100 lifeguards on duty from spring through fall, Trager said.

During the offseason, which runs from September to June, seven full-time lifeguards, one marine safety protection officer and 20 seasonal employees staff lifeguard headquarters.

The new facility will provide solar water heating and will have men's and women's restrooms and showers. The former facility had one unisex locker room. The building will also have a place for the public to interact with the lifeguards, and will serve as a dispatch center.

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