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Again? La Jolla Cove lifeguard tower construction delayed

Citing issues with the ADA-access ramp and a surprise “water intrusion,” the construction timeline on La Jolla Cove’s lifeguard tower has been pushed back again, this time to mid-September.

Originally scheduled to be completed in December 2014, unforeseen problems pushed the completion date to March 2015, then to late July/early August 2015, and then to its most recent projection.

Myrna Dayton, deputy director of field engineering with the City of San Diego Public Works Department, said her team has been “struggling with the contractor (APR Construction, Inc.) for several months” and that “the quality of the work that was completed by the contractor was not to our standards and a lot had to be redone.”

The new tower will be 80 square feet with a steel frame and wood siding on a concrete cantilevered base. The $1.85 million pricetag is being funded through the use of deferred capital bonds and development impact fees.

As pictured on Aug. 24, the Cove Lifeguard Tower remains under construction and the anticipated date of completion has been moved to mid-September.
As pictured on Aug. 24, the Cove Lifeguard Tower remains under construction and the anticipated date of completion has been moved to mid-September.

In addition, new benches will be added at the mid-level area with storage cubbies for swimmers, and an access ramp to the mid- level landing overlooking the Cove will be installed.

The latter posed one of the problems. When portions of the ADA-access ramp were built, it was determined they were too steep to meet ADA standards.

“ADA is a big issue for us,” Dayton said. “The ramp was only a little bit off tolerance but it was unacceptable to us. It contributed to the delay of us accepting the work.”

As such, the ramp portion of the project is considered behind schedule.

A second surprise that spurred a voluntary rebuild was a “water intrusion” on the landing fronting the door where the lifeguards enter and exit the dormitory area.

After the flash storm hit San Diego in mid-July, a small amount of water got into the lower level of the tower, separate from the observation tower, where lifeguards have showers and rest-room facilities. “It was a blessing in disguise to be honest ... We know it was a weird storm and we got a lot of rain at one time, but the fact that it happened and there was some minor flooding in the lower part of the station ... we decided to redo the landing in front of the door.” Senior civil engineer Elif Cetin added, “Although the water was draining, we didn’t feel comfortable with the amount of water that came in, and we had the opportunity to enhance the area and we chose to take that road. We don’t want to see any water in there.”

Although it is not known how much the delays and replacements will add to the project, Senior Public Information Officer Scott Robinson explained any voluntary improvements are covered by the city, while any work that is not up to par is covered by the contractor. The La Mesa-based APR Construction’s county-wide projects include work on schools such as Southwest Middle School and City College, and retail locations.

That’s Rough

Construction on the Cove lifeguard tower prompted the annual Rough Water Swim to be cancelled last year, but Dayton assured construction impacts would be minimal enough that the Swim set for Sept. 13 could take place this year.

With the main facility nearly done, “We are taking away most of the trailers and removing the fence completely just before the event,” she said, adding they would lay artificial turf in the adjacent Scripps Park and after the event, fresh grass will be planted, and fenced off so it can be established.

Children’s Pool Tower

La Jolla’s other lifeguard station under construction, at Children’s Pool, is reportedly on track to be complete in time for the next harbor seal pupping season, Dec. 15. During the pupping season, Dec. 15-May 15 annually, no work can take place at Children’s Pool that might disrupt the pregnant and nursing harbor seals that haul out there.

In June, following the end of the most recent pupping season, work resumed on the Children’s Pool tower at its lowest topographical level, Cetin explained. She said much of the work is taking place below street level and not visible to passers-by.

“We have retaining walls that needed tieback work (to support and stabilize the wall),” she said. “The lifeguard locker area under construction is below the street level; there is a walkway that goes around to the rest rooms on the mid level, also below street level, so it’s hard to see any of that.”

Robinson added that deliberate efforts were made to not bother beach-goers and Children’s Pool visitors with construction noise and traffic impacts.

“A lot of work has been ongoing (since June), but that’s one of the main things the contractor and the city have worked for, to mitigate the impact of construction activities,” he said. However, similar to the Cove, the ADA-access ramp has had to be re-measured for compliance to ADA standards.

The intention this year — as was the plan last year prohibited by a nesting seagull chick found at the site — is to have the exterior completed by the start of the coming pupping season, with interior work continuing through the winter.