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La Jolla Parks & Beaches to fund study of Children’s Pool condition and needs

The Children's Pool in La Jolla was opened in 1931 at 850 Coast Blvd.
The Children’s Pool in La Jolla was opened in 1931 at 850 Coast Blvd.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches group will commission a study of the condition of La Jolla’s 90-year-old landmark Children’s Pool.

La Jolla engineer Matt Mangano, who created a similar report of the Children’s Pool a few years ago for a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, will complete the study.

In a letter to the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department about the study, LJP&B member Phyllis Minick wrote, “The scope of work includes a structural observation of the general conditions, with consideration for the repair, reinforcement or replacement based on current code standards as required by the city of San Diego.”

The study is intended to improve the structure’s performance, safety, code compliance and useful life, the letter states. The results are expected in 2022.

The Children’s Pool was opened in 1931 at 850 Coast Blvd. to provide a wave-free shoreline for children by way of a breakwater and stairs. It was funded by La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.

Additional features include the top and face of the coastal sandstone bluff that anchors the stairways and supports blufftop improvements, a sandstone reef that anchors the foundations of the breakwater, a small, shallow dredged marine pool between the bluffs and reef and a sandy man-made beach.

“There are several projects I have suggested, such as repairing the walkway and handrails along the seawall,” Minick told the LJP&B board during its Dec. 6 meeting. “If any part of the seawall ever came loose, it could mean horrific injury. It hasn’t happened and maybe never will, but it is not safe as it stands.”

Other recommendations could include repairing the short walls that surround the beach at sidewalk level and/or the walls leading to the seawall, adding handrails along certain stairs.

After some debate about whether to hand over all the funds at once or make payments, LJP&B voted to pay the full amount in one lump sum.

The study will cost $11,258, using funds left over from the Children’s Pool Plaza construction project completed in 2018, which expanded the sidewalk, added vegetation and seating walls and opened up the viewing area over the Children’s Pool.

“It’s impossible to build anything for that amount of money, but that money was set aside for Children’s Pool [projects], so doing this study provides us a step forward,” said Minick, a Children’s Pool Plaza organizer.

Mangano told the La Jolla Light that “this is a continuation” of the research that went into nominating the Children’s Pool for the National Register. “The previous report was strictly historical, this is more structural,” he said. “We’re coming up with a framework for the city to start planning any work that needs to be done to preserve it.”

La Jollan Diane Kane, who is president of the local Community Planning Association, said she is working on revisions to the nomination that were requested by the California Office of Historic Preservation.

Certain areas of the Children’s Pool have been deteriorating in recent years. In 2018, Kane took photos as part of the National Register nomination package. A year later, she observed caving in the stairs leading to the beach, pocking in the walking surface of the seawall that can be felt through shoes, deepening cracks along the walls and eroding support structures.

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches group meets Dec. 6 online.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Other LJP&B news

Term limits imposed: After years of debate over whether to have term limits, a working group formed this year to edit the board’s bylaws voted recently to adopt changes for term limits. There currently are none, and some members have been on the board for decades.

“Directors will serve a three-year term commencing immediately after the annual meeting in January,” LJP&B President Claudia Baranowski said. “Directors may serve a maximum of six years, or two terms. In order to stagger the current terms and establish an annual rotation, each board member has been assigned an initial term of one, two or three years.”

When a vacancy occurs, the selection will occur in January rather than throughout the year.

The change is part of a larger revision to the bylaws to clean up inconsistent language and make other changes as recommended by the city.

Bench replacement: LJP&B lent its support to a La Jolla Boy Scout who is looking to replace some benches in Bird Rock’s Calumet Park.

Dash Richardson, a sophomore at La Jolla High School, said he wanted to replace the benches for his Eagle Scout project, using a mold he bought to create the frame and installing new wooden planks.

In introducing the project, LJP&B member Barbara Dunbar said, “Many of the benches at Calumet Park are crumbling and are in need of replacement. … This project has the approval of the Bird Rock Community Council Coastal Overlooks Committee and would be a notable benefit to the neighborhoods of Bird Rock … and to all the visitors who use and enjoy Calumet Park.”

“Side-scapes” project: The board also voted to support board Vice President Bob Evans’ project to add vegetation to the inlets next to certain sidewalks.

“They are little cutouts in the sidewalk from The Cove to the Children’s Pool, which I call ‘side-scapes,’” Evans said. “Right now, they are blighted and filled with weeds or dirt or trash, there are vendors that set up in them, and my vision is to get new plants in there.”

Evans said he would meet with two landscape architects this week to get a budget and scope-of-work proposal to plant low-maintenance native vegetation in those spots. He said he would return with a “real presentation” at a future board meeting and begin fundraising.

Next meeting: La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, tentatively online. Learn more at lajollaparksbeaches.org. ◆