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New goal for completion of La Jolla Cove lifeguard tower: July or August

The completion date for construction of the La Jolla Cove lifeguard tower was pushed back once again to, ideally, the end of this month. Originally scheduled to be complete in December 2014, unforeseen delays initially pushed its completion date to March 2015. Now Myrna Dayton, deputy director of field engineering with the city of San Diego’s public works department, is saying the tower should be complete by late July or early August.

The new tower will be 80 square feet with a steel frame and wood siding on a concrete, cantilevered base. The $1.85 million cost is being funded by the use of deferred capital bonds and development impact fees (it is unknown exactly how much the delays will add to the cost of the project). An access ramp to the mid-level landing overlooking the Cove will be installed. Also, new benches will be added at the mid-level area with storage cubbies for swimmers.

A concept rendering of the new 80-square-foot La Jolla Cove lifeguard tower.
A concept rendering of the new 80-square-foot La Jolla Cove lifeguard tower.

Delays such as miscalculation of lead-time, project components that had to be reworked, events at the Cove and a last minute project addition extended the duration of work. APR Construction, Inc. is the contractor on the project.

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Addressing lead-time, the time between the initiation and the execution of a project, Dayton said, “Every lifeguard station is unique, and when ordering specialized material for a unique project, you have (to consider) lead-time. Sometimes materials associated with this project take eight to 12 weeks to order and the contractor was not familiar with the long lead-time.” As such, more time was spent than expected, and scheduled for, waiting for materials.

Additionally, Dayton said some components were not completed to the city’s standards, or unrealistic plans were drawn up, and had to be reworked. Chiefly, she said, the contractor originally wanted to use the sea bluffs as a shoring mechanism to support the cantilever base. “Once the contractor got out there and started building the cantilever, they realized they could not use the sea bluffs the way they had assumed they could. So, the contractor hired a structural engineer to come up with a shoring mechanism that would work. In all, completing this task took approximately three weeks, consequently delaying the remaining tasks in the critical path.”

Construction on the tower was also put on pause for the few days surrounding the Fourth of July fireworks display in 2014, and the Challenged Athletes Triathlon Challenge in October 2014, both of which heavily utilize the Cove and adjacent Scripps Park.

The addition to the original project plans involved glazing the windows to prevent glare or view distortion, which happened with the new La Jolla Shores tower.

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When it was first constructed in summer 2013, it was determined that at certain times of day, during certain months, the angle and type of glass first used for the La Jolla Shores lifeguard tower created “ghost images” of people appearing to be on one side of the beach when they are actually at another. Additional glare inhibited the guards’ ability to see.

Ensuring that a similar complication does not occur at the Cove, Dayton said, “We wanted to make sure we had the right tinting and glazing on the windows for the observation tower. That was not part of the original contract because it was something we found out about in La Jolla Shores (after the contract was written).”

To complete construction in according with its latest schedule, the project was granted a waiver to the summer construction moratorium. “We weren’t anticipating needing to get one, because of the previous March deadline, but we really want to get that project done,” Dayton said. “After talking to the city council and various community groups, we decided to move forward and request the waiver.”

In the meantime, additional temporary lifeguard towers were placed to the west of where the new structure will sit. “We wanted to over-accommodate,” she said.

Children’s Pool tower

Less than half a mile away, the lifeguard tower at Children’s Pool is also under construction. Two years after its demolition, City staff are now saying the tower should be complete by the end of the year.

“We want the entire project complete and to have lifeguards moved in by Dec. 15, in advance of the pupping season,” Dayton said. Rather than pause for the summer moratorium, work on the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower must halt for the harbor seal pupping season, recognized Dec. 15 to May 15 annually.

After the tower’s July 2013 demolition, work was suspended Dec. 15, 2013 to May 15, 2014 and again Dec. 15, 2014 to May 15, 2015. The original intent was to have the exterior completed between May and December 2014, so interior work could continue through the 2014-2015 pupping season. However, a variety of issues caused repeated delays during working months.

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None of the issues that previously hindered construction are expected at this time, including: being heavily reliant on material deliveries, resolved by ordering them in advance; a discrepancy in the floor elevation that was discovered, requiring a redesign; and a nesting seagull chick discovered on site.

“Right now, we are on track but you never know with construction what might pop up, but right now we don’t have any unforeseen issues or delays,” Dayton said.

Children’s Pool Walk

Once construction on the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower is complete, plans can proceed on the privately organized Children’s Pool Beautification Walk project. Spearheaded by La Jollan Phyllis Minick, the project entails replacing and improving the sidewalk area above Children’s Pool.

Although the hope was to have the beatification project done concurrently with the lifeguard tower, organizers are now being told it will have to wait until the tower is complete.

“The project has been awarded $430,000 construction dollars by the city,” in addition to the amount privately raised, Minick said at a recent La Jolla Parks and Beaches advisory group meeting. “The entire project is now in the Public Works department preliminary engineering phase, at which point it will be reviewed for final cost and ... The full construction schedule follows that.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in mid-2016.

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