Plans move forward for Children’s Pool lifeguard remodel

RJC Architect's conceptual illustration of the north elevation of the Children's Pool lifeguard station. Photo: Courtesy
RJC Architect’s conceptual illustration of the north elevation of the Children’s Pool lifeguard station. Photo: Courtesy

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

La Jolla Parks and Beaches Committee members are OK with conceptual plans for the long-awaited Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station remodel, providing full vehicular access is provided to the beach so it can be cleaned properly.

Committee members also favored an accelerated work schedule for the project, which ordinarily would be slowed by both the city’s summer construction moratorium and the Dec. 15 to May 15 harbor seal pupping season there.

The committee, which is in the process of splitting from the La Jolla Town Council and becoming its own independent nonprofit, also endorsed a proposal by committee member Phyllis Minick and landscape architect Jim Neri to form a subcommittee to study beautifying the Children’s Pool plaza walkway which includes a popular gazebo overlooking the pool.

“We have conceptual plans approved and at hand to replace the existing lifeguard station built in the mid-‘60s: It’s small, old, deteriorated and no longer serves the needs of lifeguards or the public and has been condemned,” said Jihad Sleiman with the city’s Engineering and Capital Projects Department.

“What we’re going to replace it with is a brand new, state-of-the-art lifeguard station with two observation towers, street-level floor plan, a first-aid station and public restrooms on the lower floor with showers, sinks and drinking fountains.”

Sleiman added the new station would be accessible from the street level down to the lower-floor restrooms. But when pressed on whether there would be access for maintenance vehicles to get down to the beach to clean and maintain it, Sleiman said he was not sure if current plans include access for larger-scale vehicles.

“If the beach cannot be maintained … That’s got to be a basic part of the concept,” said longtime committee member Melinda Merryweather.

The city engineer added the project would be done on a design-build basis.

“The designer and contractor will be on the same team, and we’re going to build it as we design it,” he said.

But Sleiman added a major problem remains as the summer construction moratorium and seals’ pupping season combined leave only three or four months when work could be done each year at Children’s Pool.

He estimated construction of the new 766-square-foot, estimated $3.8 million lifeguard tower would take a total of 14 months with work commencing in winter 2012 with the demolition of the existing structure.

Parks committee member Bill Robbins suggested the scope of the project be increased.

“Looking at the bigger picture, we need to fix everything including the steps,” he said. “Why are we ignoring them saying they’re not part of the product?”

Parks committee member Ken Hunrichs suggested more shower space will be needed than what is envisioned, pointing out there will be long lines otherwise.

At the end of the meeting, the committee voted unanimously to send a letter to the city advocating that it start fulfilling its role of cleaning and maintaining Children’s Pool as provided in the trust status of the pool when it was bequeathed by Ellen Browning Scripps and deeded from the state to the city back in the 1930s.