La Jolla lifeguard tower projects moving toward contracts

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

La Jolla Shores’ lifeguard tower may be first on the list going to bid, but the station at the Children’s Pool is a bit more problematic.

Jihad Sleiman, the city’s project manager for those jobs and a remodel of the Cove lifeguard station, said the Shores’ work would be advertised within the next couple of weeks. Construction should begin “hopefully in the middle of November,” he added.

At an estimated $3.84 million cost, work will involve demolishing the existing 850-square-foot station and constructing two separate buildings connected by a breezeway with a 30-foot observation tower cantilevered out over the boardwalk.

Meanwhile, Sleiman added, “The existing Children’s Pool lifeguard station is deteriorating very fast and falling apart - we’ve been asked to demolish the building.”

Lifeguards there are housed in a temporary tower on scaffolding because their old quarters have been condemned.

Sleiman said building at Children’s Pool is especially complicated because of the small construction window available. No work is permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and no construction will be allowed during the seals’ pupping season from Dec. 15 to May 15.

The city has decided to “hire a designer and a contractor at the same time, to be on the same team, and do all the work together” for the Children’s Pool station, he added. That team will likely be selected in December or January.

Meanwhile, improvements at the Cove tower, the smallest of the three projects, could begin in fall 2011. Improvements include a ramp to the midlevel landing that would make it accessible to disabled people.

At the Shores, lifeguards will also get a detached 650-square-foot, single-story, rescue vehicle and emergency equipment facility in the parking lot. Some in the community balked at the design of the Shores project, arguing that it would block ocean views, present a public safety threat, remove invaluable parking and not blend with surrounding architecture.

In 2008, opponents unsuccessfully appealed its approval to the city hearing officer, the city Planning Commission and the City Council.

The city is excited about construction on the new Shores tower, which will begin before year’s end. “We feel this will be a San Diego landmark,” Sleiman noted.

He added that lifeguard operations will continue out of the existing Shores tower until the new tower is completed, which will then be demolished in November or December of 2011.