City ponders pool project

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Cost estimates for a new Seal Beach community swimming pool put the project at more than $20 million dollars, according to a presentation from project consultants.

A 50 meter pool would cost more than $22.7 million and a 40 meter pool would cost more than $21.1 million, according to the slide presentation to the council on Monday, Jan. 13. (The Sun rounded the figures.)

That figure doesn’t include land costs, as the city won’t be buying land from the proposed location on the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach. Officer Gregg Smith, the public affairs officer for the base, confirmed in a Tuesday, Jan. 14, email that the Navy would lease the land for the pool to the city. “So it will still be considered Navy property but the city will have the rights to build and operate the pool on the Navy land,” Smith wrote.

The Seal Beach City Council discussed the community pool project this week—looking at whether to go forward with the project and how to pay for the pool. The council took no action Monday night.

The city has been negotiating with the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station to  lease land for the community pool project. The negotiations, are still ongoing. The project has been discussed by multiple City Council’s since at least 2008.

“I know the numbers are staggering,” said City Manager Jill Ingram this week.

Her recommendation was that staff go back and see what a community outreach would look like.

District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt said she lost her breath when she saw the cost. According to Massa-Lavitt, the cost was “only” two-thirds of the city budget.

However, District Three Councilman Michael Varipapa supports the project. “I’m kind of excited about it,” he said.

“It would be a great asset,” he said. Varipapa said the city would still have to go through the process and do an outreach.

The city did an outreach on the community pool project in 2014, according to Frisco White of Westberg + White, Inc., an architectural firm.

At this week’s council meeting, District One Councilman Joe Kalmick said whatever previous community outreach had been done would have to be done again.

He said there needed to be a pretty large consensus.

Kalmick asked about potential revenue from the pool.

Recreation Manager Tim Kelsey said he would not expect the pool to be a “cash cow.” He indicated the city might offset some costs.

Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos indicated he was looking at some kind of sponsorship for the pool. He didn’t know how much money that might raise.

Financing

“Keep in mind that $5 million was set aside 10 years ago,” Ingram said.

Kelsey said he was not sure how well-researched the $5 million figure was. He thought the figure was put down without a location for the swimming pool and with no conceptual plan.

According to page 21 of a September 2008, Rowley International Inc., Aquatic Design, Engineering & Consulting feasibility study for renovating or replacing the pool, a 50 meter competition pool with a recreational pool would cost more than $5 million dollars—and at $5.2 million with an optional slide.

In a June 12, 2019 email to the Sun, then-City Treasurer/Finance Director Victoria Beatley wrote, “$15 million is the new estimated total cost.”

Beatley retired last month. A permanent successor has not yet been hired.

According to the on-screen presentation to this week’s council meeting, the financing options for the project include:

• issuing a general obligation bond. This would require two-thirds voter approval.

• lease revenue bonds or certificates of participation. According to the slide “no voter approval required—not considered debt for State constitutional purposes.”

Location

During the presentation, White describing the project site analysis, indicated there were five contending locations for the swimming pool: the Seal Beach Tennis Center, Marina Park, the former DWP property, McGaugh Pool, and the Navy base.

White said the overwhelming favorite was the Navy base.

In April 2018, the council authorized the city manager to begin talking with the Navy about leasing land for the location of the proposed pool.

The currently proposed location is directly across from Seal Beach Police Headquarters, between the credit union and the World War II National Submarine Memorial – West, just outside Seal Beach Boulevard entrance to the base.

In July 2019, the Sun published the results of an informal social media survey about the pool project. For details, see “Community seems to favor a pool, but costs are a concern,” at sunnews.org.

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