PITTSBURG -- Long-delayed efforts to replace the closed pool at Ambrose Park took a major step forward when city planning commissioners signed off on a design plan.
Planning commissioners voted 6-0 Tuesday to give the go-ahead to the plan, which the City Council will now review at its Oct. 15 meeting.
Technically, Ambrose Park, which is near Highway 4 and Bailey Road, is within Pittsburg city limits as a result of land that the city annexed in 2008. But Ambrose Park is within the jurisdiction of the Ambrose Recreation and Park District, which serves Bay Point residents. The city is acting as the project manager for the pool project while the district has final approvals.
The plan approved by commissioners calls for the old eight-lane lap pool to be replaced with a large children's activity "splash pool" that would be irregularly shaped with a maximum depth of 18 inches. Designs also call for restrooms, a snack stand, and a pool equipment building.
Several Bay Point residents pleaded with commissioners to consider building an eight-lane competitive swimming pool instead of the splash pool.
"I hope it will be competitive pool (so) the whole community can come and enjoy the pool and that it's not just a splash pool," said Vicki Zumwalt, a member of the Bay Point Municipal Advisory Council.
"I think it makes much more sense to do the big pool first, then you could do the splash pool," said Debra Mason, who is also on the council.
Funding limitations make it very difficult to build an eight-lane lap pool, said Tarry Smith, the park district's general manager, adding they are both expensive to build and to operate.
He estimated it would cost about $200,000 to build the three-lane lap pool and $500,000 to build an eight-lane lap pool. "The (splash) pool is a huge revenue source," Smith said.
If more funding becomes available or the bid for the splash pool comes in lower than expected, it's possible a three-lane, 25-yard lap pool with a depth of three-and-a-half feet could be added later, Smith said.
Commissioner David Fogleman noted that Bay Point is not a wealthy community and that its schools do not have swim teams that would be able to use a competitive lap pool. A.J. Fardella, chair of the planning commission, said he could see a lot of local day care centers paying to use the splash pool.
The old pool was closed in 2008 for safety reasons, which included problems with its drainage system, and to make other improvements.
The Ambrose pool replacement project is estimated to cost $2.3 million. Project funding comes from $1.13 million from the East Bay Regional Park District's Measure WW, a voter-approved bond measure; $600,000 in park fees paid by city developers; $98,000 from the district; and $473,000 in county developer fees. The county fees were turned over to the district from a lawsuit settlement to help the district pay for the new pool.
If all goes according to plan and the necessary approvals for the project are obtained, the new pool could be open in July.
Before the meeting, Tarry said, "We feel like we have enough for the (splash) pool. That's the one that will the serve the small kids and parents and is the least expensive to operate and brings in the most revenue."
He also noted that Buchanan Park in Pittsburg has a lap pool. "Buchanan is not that far away," he said.
Reach Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.