Council backs less expensive pool options

CITY HALL — Three high-end concepts for a new community pool at Pacific Park were shelved Tuesday after City Council members said they could not justify a grand design given the harsh economic landscape.

Parks officials had proposed four new options for the council to consider Tuesday that ranged in size from six to eight lanes with price tags of $7.87 million to $10.14 million.

On the higher end, the designs promised pools of up to 13.5 feet deep that could accommodate scuba instruction, water polo and a pair of 1-meter diving boards.

A 40-foot-diameter “zero depth entry” play pool, a water slide and an expanded children’s “splash and play” area were also included in the plans.

The city has been without a public swimming pool since 2003, when the block was redeveloped as part of a joint project with the Glendale Unified School District to build Edison Elementary School.

A four-lane concept for the corner of Pacific Avenue and Riverdale Drive presented in September was originally budgeted for $5.4 million, but the design found little support with council members who said they preferred a pool that would be large enough to generate usage and accommodate multiple uses.

But with prices approaching the $10-million range, several concepts were deemed too rich by a City Council bracing for a round of study sessions meant to reveal how the down economy has taken its toll on the city’s budget.

“Essential services are what count in times like this,” Councilman Dave Weaver said, before going on to call the pool proposal nothing more than an election-year item. “At this time, with the economy the way it is, it just doesn’t make sense.”

With Weaver unwilling to support any of the four concepts, the rest of the City Council opted for a more scaled-down, six-lane version with a standard depth able to accommodate only competitive water polo and swimming.

They also said they would support a reconfigured six-lane pool preserving the existing children’s water play area to be included in future design options.

Councilman Ara Najarian, who had earlier said he would push for the $10.14-million concept, said Tuesday that he would be willing to reconfigure the pool to fit an $8-million budget.

“We’ve deprived our residents of a pool for too long,” he said. “It is not a luxury item. I see this as more of a necessity.”

Councilman Bob Yousefian also disagreed with Weaver’s assessment that a pool in south Glendale would be irrelevant to those living in other parts of the city.

“I think this is the one amenity that we lack in the community. We need to put it in,” he said.

He also urged parks officials to seize on the down economy and secure depressed construction prices for a deal on costs.

With Weaver begrudgingly agreeing to join in the unanimous vote, parks officials were told to come back with alternatives that made better use of “value engineering” — concepts designed to get the most bang for their buck.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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