Guest Article – To Build or Not To Build The Second Pool… That Is The Question ‎

With the success of the Laguna Beach High School girls’ polo team internationally there is now word on the street that Laguna must have an Olympic size stadium pool for more practice and support for further successes with our water polo teams. There were many who spoke out against this new pool as way too big and way too expensive. However he new second pool advocates continued to press on with attempts to bring the large pool plan to the City Council.

At this time it has been noted that the Olympic size would be Laguna’s second public pool but now has been reduced in size in hopes that it will now be a plan more acceptable to the Taxpayers who will pay for this luxury. Please keep in mind that all of this remains in the talking stages to some degree. With a City of only some 23,000 in population the need for a second pool seems extravagant. Many athletes in training for swimming in Olympic events whether in lap competition or diving or polo had to travel to areas that had Aquatic Centers with large facilities for training. These Aquatic Centers are located in Laguna Niguel and San Clemente and other nearby cities. Much larger cities with large open land space for development and a much broader property tax base to pay for these Aquatic Centers made it very easy to build such Centers. These Centers as well as others are very close to Laguna Beach and could be used for all swimming competition practices.

This is a much fairer, reasonable, and practical approach to serve the needs for these athletes and not create a significant burden from our much smaller tax base. Our current local pool is part of the LBSD with total costs carried by the School District and then with the School District’s total costs paid in full by the Taxpayers. Our current pool accommodates both students and the public. The new second pool advocates have mentioned in presenting their case, the over crowding of pool usage and thus the need for this second pool. There are those citizens who have observed pool usage during pool hours and have noticed how few people are actually there at any one time and therefore creating less demand for a second community pool. My neighbor, who is a senior and uses the pool often, mentioned that there has never been any overcrowding and plenty of room for free swimming or doing laps.

With emails from various departments of the City the information that a geological survey had been completed at Lang Park in South Laguna. There were no other areas in Laguna Beach that were being consider for a second pool location. This survey was done in June of this year in consideration for a second pool location. To my knowledge there was no information given to the public as to any exploration for a second pool location at Lang Park. It did take an email to the City to get current and accurate information. At this time it is unknown if the second City pool is actually a done deal or remains yet in the planning stages. Many Citizens in South Laguna are in opposition to any pool being developed at Lang Park mainly due to the significant increase in traffic and parking needs that will impact this quiet neighborhood. Instead of a second pool most Citizens of South Laguna have needed side walks, more adequate beach patrols, and public bathrooms, along with better maintenance of beaches in the South end of town. A second pool at Lang Park would only add to the burden many of these Citizens must deal with on a daily basis.

To my knowledge the building of a second swim pool in our town has never been a priority until the recent victories won by the high school girls’ polo team. Second pool advocates are now stepping up to encourage the City to move forward with planning. To date there have been no discussion as to cost to build the pool and what can be expected on costs to maintain this facility. How will parking be controlled and how much actual green belt will be left for play areas for children and families? Who will be allowed to use this second pool? Additionally, with the Village Entrance yet to be completed with a budget already set aside at $7.1 million Taxpayer dollars, and the talk of under grounding telephone poles at a huge estimated cost, plus even a greater demand to accommodate our Homeless population, and the added demands on our local Police Department, plus the liability for our unfunded pensions, it seems very clear that the demand for a second multi million dollar pool on a population of only 23,000 is extreme.

We Taxpayers are most willing to accommodate the needs and costs for maintaining our community but are unwilling to be overburdened with unnecessary and wasteful costs. Our government must care for the daily needs of our Citizens because it is us, the Taxpayers, who will be picking up the tab. Tourism actually puts little money into the City coffers and taxes paid from purchases in our commercial district, not much of those taxes actually end up as part of our General Fund. The costs to run our City remains
nearly solely on the backs of Property Owners. Further more, any recommendations for any large expenditure projects paid for by Taxpayers must be approved by a ballot vote and open discussion before any consultants are hired and any actual planning is started.
The true need for a second pool remains totally unnecessary and most unpractical. The group who advocates for the second pool is small but determined. Taxpayers in opposition to a new second multi million dollar pool must step forward to be heard and resist this second pool movement which, if approved, will become yet an additional tax burden.

Jim Gothard
Laguna Beach

* Editor’s Note: LagunaBeachCHAT welcomes guest articles on topics of general interest, from respected sources. If a guest article is accepted as relevant and topical, we commit to making no changes (other than spelling and small technical corrections) and will publish the article in its entirety.

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