Council picks L-shaped pool

CITY HALL — The final design for a $5.8-million pool at Pacific Park won grudging support Tuesday from a City Council caught between the desire to resurrect a long-absent municipal pool and the political pressure to keep costs down.

Those pressures have resulted in a consistently pared-down pool design that started out with a possible eight-lane, competition-ready $10.14-million concept that, over the course of several hearings, shrank to a simpler six-lane version as the impending budget woes at City Hall started to loom larger.

The City Council in February directed parks officials to make do with a $6-million budget that relied almost exclusively on state and federal grants.

Despite continued discord on the dais on exactly what form the pool should take, the council Tuesday agreed on a L-shaped design capable of accommodating a swim team, aerobics and water polo practice; although at 6 feet, 6 inches deep, it won’t meet state requirements for official matches.

The design preserves an existing children’s spray-and-play area while adding a maintenance building with lifeguard and supervisorial offices, lockers, restrooms and storage space near the corner of Pacific Avenue and Riverdale Drive.

But the concept again fell short of the project’s most ardent supporter, Councilman Ara Najarian, who has repeatedly railed against efforts to tone down the design.

This time, the concept’s proposed 5-foot depth was unacceptable since the shallow water would prohibit head-on diving.

“This is ridiculous. We’re going to build a pool that kids can’t dive in?” Najarian asked.

The council eventually conceded to design the pool to reach 6 feet, 6 inches at its deepest point to allow for diving, but only after Najarian launched into a tirade over efforts to strip down pool amenities.

“I feel like I’m running into roadblock after roadblock in trying to advance this pool concept,” he said. “I’m just so disappointed in this whole process.”

Councilman Dave Weaver was the lone person on the dais to vote against the concept, saying he remained opposed to bringing the pool up for consideration at a time when the city is preparing to cut millions from its budget for next fiscal year.

But with nearly all of the money coming from outside sources, the majority of the council was ready to move ahead with bringing back a public facility that was lost in 2003, when the city removed the pool as part of a joint project with Glendale Unified School District to build Edison Elementary School.

“We get one shot at this,” Mayor John Drayman said.

Parks officials expect to finish construction design plans for the new facility by this summer, when the project will likely be put out to bid.

Once the contract comes back to the City Council for approval in the fall, George Chapjian, director of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, said he expected the $1.4-million state grant for the project to be unfrozen.

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