PITTSBURG -- The Ambrose Recreation and Park District is taking the plunge.

Directors approved a design concept last week for a $1.5 million rehabilitation of the long-neglected aquatic center and swimming pool at Ambrose Park.

Architects with Siegfried Engineering presented a pair of options at a July 10 meeting. Both options included dividing the existing pool with a wall to create a 25-yard-long pool for lap swimming and an 8-yard-long shallow pool for children, seniors and swimming lessons -- a desire expressed by the community during four meetings last year.

Jim McClennand, Siegfried's director of architecture, explained the project will upgrade the plumbing in the bathhouse, improve handicapped accessibility and bring the pool's drains and cement up to code compliance.

The existing eight-lane lap pool closed in 2009 for safety reasons.

The option favored by the board includes relocation of the chemical pumphouse, adds recreational space inside the center and near the pool, and may include synthetic turf and wrought-iron fencing.

Board members liked the notion of having flexibility on some items without sending the project over budget, noting that they could add or subtract options depending on the contractor bids.

"We want to get the most for our money. But, I think maybe we can cut back on the trees or some of the fancy stuff that make our costs go up," board member Judy Dawson said. "When it's all and done, and we get more money down the pike, we can add to that."

Siegfried will now prepare documents to put the project out to bid by early fall, Ambrose general manager Doug Long said. Noting there is a tight timeline, the board's go-ahead will allow the pool's reopening by next Memorial Day, he said.

Ambrose Park, located near Highway 4 and Bailey Road, is within Pittsburg city limits, but the park is owned and maintained by the Ambrose Recreation and Park District. About 90 percent of the district is in Bay Point.

Ambrose directors originally supported replacing the lap pool with a 18-inch deep children's pool, saying that it would have less maintenance costs.

The plan was turned back when construction bid came in about $700,000 higher than available funding.

Residents attending the July 10 meeting lauded the pool design.

Bay Point resident Cecilia Ramirez said in Spanish that the community has been talking about the project for over a year and she doesn't want to "see another year of more talking."

Lifelong resident and community activist Jovana Vasquez said this give families a sorely needed option for a place to take their children that is close to home.

"There is a need for more activities where families can take their kids and feel safe," she said.

Vasquez also likes an idea that came up of local youth groups creating a mural on the renovated building. "It could give them ownership and a sense of pride," she said.

To see a detailed copy of the design, visit www.ambroserec.org.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.

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