La Jolla Parks & Beaches group wants Children’s Pool cleaned after pupping season

By Ashley Mackin

In the aftermath of the recent California Coastal Commission (CCC) decision to close Children’s Pool/Casa Beach during the harbor seals’ pupping season, Dec. 15-May 15, La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJPB) community advisory committee weighed in on the vote at its Aug. 25 meeting, noting what members would like to see happen next.

“I am thrilled with what happened at the coastal commission (meeting) because the line has been drawn,” said LJPB member Melinda Merryweather. “There will be five months of just seals on that beach and seven months of children on the beach. I just think it’s imperative that when it is turned over to the children, that it is cleaned. ... And I think the city should do it. If the city won’t do it, I’ll tell you, there are people in this community who are willing to pay for it.”

Examining the water and sand quality, and determining quality improvement methods during the five-year period for which the permit to close the beach applies, were part of the unanimously approved CCC motion.

“I would like to see it happen soon,” Merryweather said. “It doesn’t seem fair for the children that when their turn comes to use the beach, they are given a litter box.”

LJPB chair Dan Allen noted it was not known at the LJPB meeting what level of cleaning would be required, whether the city would simply have to look at the feasibility of cleaning, remove seaweed from the beach, or something more extensive.

One option the LJPB board would like to see explored would be to open the sealed sluiceways in the seawall — passages that allow for the flow of water into the Children’s Pool — as a means of removing the sand and regulating the flow of water.

Not the first time the board made such a suggestion, Allen referenced a letter the board sent to the city in 2012. It read, in part: “La Jolla Parks & Beaches requests that the city investigate the benefits of re-opening one or more of the four existing sluiceways in the Children’s Pool seawall as a mitigation measure to correct the excessive buildup of contaminated sand. If it is determined this measure is technically not possible, then we would ask your staff to prepare an alternate plan to mitigate the sand and water quality issues at the site.”

The letter also referenced a study conducted in 1998 that looked into the practicability of opening the sluiceways at an estimated cost of $30,000.

LJPB requested Allen re-send the letter, which was revised Aug. 29 to include, “In consideration of the pace of deliberations and decisions related to the Children’s Pool to date, the study that the Commission asks for should begin promptly. We reiterate a previous request.”

Should the city deem the reopening unfeasible as outlined in the 1998 study, LJPB member Ken Hunrichs said a new type of gate that might regulate the flow of water and sand is also an option. “There are certainly other ways to do it other than (reopening the sluiceways),” he said. One idea would be to install large, durable airbags that could be inflated to block water and sand from flowing through, and then deflated to let water through.

Merryweather added, “We need to get on with the cheapest, fastest, most efficient way to do this.”

In other LJPB news:

■ Cove lifeguard tower: Chair Allen updated the board on the progress of the La Jolla Cove lifeguard tower, reporting that the tower’s original design required the removal of one palm tree to be replaced by two younger trees.

However, during excavation, it was determined the roots of two trees were larger than expected and had to be removed.

■ La Jolla Cove Pavilion: Judy Adams-Halter, part of the committee working to replace the Scripps Park restroom facility, reported the workshop held June 3 to gather feedback went well, and some good ideas were generated. Based on feedback, architects Safdie Rabines were able to proceed with creating renderings for the pavilion, which would be available in approximately eight weeks.

Leading up to the renderings’ production, the committee will go to charitable organizations with “the feel of the building,” via rough sketches, upon which Adams-Halter said she is confident people will donate. “We are also looking to collaborate with organizations that hold events at the park, because the pavilion will be at their venue,” she said.

— La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.