La Jolla Parks & Beaches seeks historical designation for Children’s Pool

La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory board voted to pursue historical designation for the Children’s Pool during its Aug. 28 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center.

Such a designation for the landmark — which was created with the construction of the sea wall funded by La Jolla benefactress Ellen Browning Scripps in 1931 — would provide new opportunities for its maintenance and enhancement. The board has been discussing the possibility since April.

The resolution, as follows, will be submitted to the California Register of Historical Resources and then to the National Register: “La Jolla Parks & Beaches, Inc., jointly with the La Jolla Historical Society, nominate the Children’s Pool to be nationally designated as a historic site on all applicable grounds, with a purpose to elevate its historicity, deal with modern building codes which would otherwise be applicable in an adverse way, and potentially bring funding opportunities for its preservation.”

The idea for historic designation came during the course of planning for the Children’s Pool Walk beautification project to aesthetically improve the sidewalk and viewing area above Children’s Pool and open up pedestrian flow. As City Engineers studied the area, they determined the retaining wall system, which delineates Children’s Pool along the sidewalk, may qualify as historic, and that would limit the modifications that could be carried out.

San Diego public information officer Alec Phillipp previously told the Light, “Any improvements to the retaining wall as part of the project should be consistent with the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s Standards for preserving historical resources” and “any improvements to existing structures would trigger modifications to meet current (safety) code requirements.”

To get the wall up to code without historical designation, early recommendations included a nearly four-foot guardrail and/or mesh screen.

But, if the site was to be historically designated, improvements would not necessarily have to conform to current City safety standards and would allow for sidewalk beautification to go forth in a modified way.

La Jolla Historical Society Preservation Committee chair Diane Kane, who spoke about the pros and cons of historical designation at LJP&B’s April 24 meeting, said when a resource is both historic and serves a safety purpose, its safety tends to override the historical components.

“If the (only) issue is that this was built a long time ago and doesn’t come up to current standards, that doesn’t mean it’s inherently unsafe, it’s just not at current standards. The state building code allows you to keep historic material in its condition as long as it’s not unsafe. If it is unsafe, you have to ask ‘in what way is it unsafe?’ and ‘what is the minimum amount of treatment necessary to correct whatever safety issues are identified?’ ” she said.

The modified Children’s Pool Walk beautification project, which bears potential historicity in mind, includes making sidewalk repairs up to the existing wall, but not so as to disturb the wall and filling in the planters with concrete or decomposed granite to open up pedestrian flow.

Additionally, should the area receive designation, there might be public funding to improve the aesthetics, and allowances for educational signage on its history, and work could proceed on the Children’s Pool Walk beautification project next summer.

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