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Costly Glendale High School pool appears headed toward reality

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Glendale Unified’s board approved a $4.75-million budget increase in July to raise the total allocation for Glendale High School’s CIF Southern Section sanctioned-sized pool to $15.7 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in October. The completion date is set for October 2020.
(Raul Roa/ Glendale News-Press)

A pool project at Glendale High that’s been in the works for nearly seven years, costing almost twice as much as expected and virtually drowned in delays, appears heading toward construction.

The Glendale Unified school board approved a $4.75-million budget increase in July to raise the total allocation for the CIF Southern Section-sized pool to $15.7 million.

Construction is scheduled to begin in October. The completion date is set for the following October, meaning next year’s incoming freshmen class would have been first-graders in 2012 when the idea of refurbishing the pool was first floated.

“What we all have in common is that, what we want is for generations of our students to take advantage of a world-class aquatic center,” new district Supt. Vivian Ekchian said.

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The final price tag includes two types of costs, according to Stephen Dickinson, the district’s chief business and financial officer.

Soft costs range from paying the architect and engineers, inspection expenses , permits and fees, while hard costs include the pool and its nearby building that will house locker rooms, restrooms, a concession stand and storage.

There will also be a mechanical building with additional restrooms.

A little more than $9.4 million of the money will come from Measure K, a bond passed in 1997, $3.9 million from Measure S, passed in 2011, and $2.4 million from capital outlay funds, Dickinson said.

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Newport Beach-based Balfour Beatty, which renovated the 52,000-square foot College View School in 2015, turned in a winning construction bid of $14.2 million, which covers the hard costs of the project.

Balfour Beatty’s bid highlighted skyrocketing construction costs as the price has nearly doubled in just under three years.

“Just to note, December of 2016, the board was notified, based on a consultant’s construction cost estimate that the project would come in at $7.9 million,” said Hagop Kassabian, Glendale Unified’s administrator in charge of planning, development and facilities, regarding the rising construction costs. “This was approximately 2½ years ago.”

Glendale Unified officials initially approved having architectural firm KPI begin project design work in November 2012.

Two amendments over a 14-month process added visiting-team locker rooms, increased the pool size to Olympic stature at 50 meters by 25 yards, and added a cogeneration plant, which provides cooling and heating through the recycling of wasted heat.

However, plans were abruptly halted in August 2014 when KPI’s founder, David Kindred, died unexpectedly.

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Glendale Unified’s board approved a $4.75 million budget increase in July to raise the total allocation for Glendale High School's CIF Southern Section sanctioned-sized pool to $15.7 million. Construction is due to begin this October. The completion date is set for October 2020.
(Raul Roa/ Glendale News-Press)

Glendale Unified eventually dropped KPI and hired architectural firm tBP in December 2015. It wasn’t until August 2017 when the board instructed tBP to downsize the pool to dimensions of 38 meters by 25 yards.

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Since then, tBP and the board had been waiting for approval from the Division of the State Architect, which was granted this past March.

The pool kept its 38x25 dimensions, but the deep end, necessary for diving, was eliminated as part of the district’s so-called “value engineering.”

The pool’s depth will now remain 6 feet 7 inches throughout.

The pool, however, will still be CIF-SS compliant for postseason water-polo matches.

Glendale High has enjoyed a great degree of aquatic success during the last seven years, highlighted by the boys’ water polo team winning the school’s first CIF-SS championship in 24 years in 2013.

Three-time All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year Trenton Julian, of Glendale High, also captured five CIF-SS swimming championships before heading to UC Berkeley in 2017.

The approval of Glendale’s pool, however, marks a setback for another CIF championship program — girls’ tennis.

As part of the district’s value engineering, board members agreed to eliminate $600,000 from the budget set aside for tennis court resurfacing, lighting and netting at Glendale High .

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“We do not have a date for this project just yet or a funding source to work with,” Dickinson said about future court resurfacing.

There was some talk in July about adding locker rooms for the baseball and softball programs as part of the pool project, spearheaded through discussion by board member Shant Sahakian.

While the board considered the proposal, it ultimately chose to approve the pool project and hold off talk about locker rooms for the baseball and softball programs for another day.

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