Surplus saves cash for pool

CITY HALL — The city commission in charge of federal grant spending recommendations took pains Wednesday to avoid touching a $1.5-million earmark for a pool at Pacific Park, citing a desire to avoid a confrontation with the City Council.

Members of the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee were able to fully fund $276,443 worth of school and nonprofit capital improvement projects without dipping in the $1.5 million, due in large part to savings on a Glendale Adventist Medical Center community service building renovation.

More than $42,000 left over from a fire safety overhaul of the hospital’s community gym, combined with a projected $125,000 in under-budget savings for an upcoming climate-control system, allowed the advisory committee “to be as creative as possible without going against the wishes of the City Council,” Chairman Zareh Amirian said.

The city’s total federal allotment for capital improvement projects is $2.46 million.

The City Council has worked over the past two years to accumulate the necessary money to build a new public pool at Pacific Park, and in the months leading up to the committee’s annual review of federal funding applications, Councilman Ara Najarian publicly warned committee members to not touch the $1.5 million that was predesignated for the project.

The advisory committee has in the past “borrowed” from the pool’s earmarks to fund more immediate community projects, with the promise to backfill the void with future block grants.

Before the last-minute announcement from Glendale Adventist of the leftover money and projected savings, several on the committee appeared willing to go that route again this year.

“They absolutely made the right decision,” Najarian said after the committee’s meeting, lauding the preservation of the $1.5-million earmark as an important step in realizing the return of a public pool to Glendale.

The city lost its last-remaining public pool in 2003 as part of a joint venture with the Glendale Unified School District to build Edison Elementary School.

On Tuesday, the City Council sent a revised six-lane pool to its final design stage with instructions to keep to a roughly $6-million budget, down from a previous $7.47 million.

The pared-down budget, due to the removal of $1.4 million in city funds from the project, made the $1.5-million earmark a linchpin for the pool. The advisory committee’s recommendation Wednesday all but ensured the pool’s construction, Najarian said.

“It looks like we’re on our way,” he said.

Unlike Monday’s arduous deliberations in reconciling more than $1 million in social service program requests against an available $487,920, the advisory committee fully funded three community capital improvement projects Wednesday.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend $85,764 for an expanded walkway for students at Roosevelt Middle School along Acacia Avenue; $7,684 for an exterior paint job for the New Horizons Family Center; and $812,995 for the ongoing reconstruction of a new Glendale athletic and cultural campus for Homenetmen Ararat Chapter.

Since the “creative” formula to fully fund those projects was made possible by the under-budget construction at Glendale Adventist’s community center, advisory committee members promised to ensure adequate funds for a planned $275,000 climate-control system and revamp of the building’s gym floor and bathrooms.

“I’m just glad that we were able to avoid the Pacific pool funds,” committee member Zareh Sinanyan said.

Roughly $40,000 was granted to the hospital to move forward with construction plans in the interim.

The advisory committee is scheduled to further discuss refunding the hospital project May 13.

The other funding recommendations are scheduled for City Council review next month.


 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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