With concerns about funding and the realization they can’t meet every community need, Long Beach city leaders are proposing a revised plan for a new Belmont pool that would come in under $75 million and could open for use by late 2025.
The project would include a 50-meter outdoor pool with diving springboards, zip lines and climbing walls; an instructional pool for swim lessons and laps; and a recreational pool with play features for kids. if the city could find another $3.68 million, bleachers for spectators and a shade structure could be added.
The city is seeking public input on that plan, which city management is recommending, as well as two similarly priced options with slightly different features. The City Council will still have the final say on which project goes forward.
It’s quite different from what officials were contemplating in 2016—a large complex with a two Olympic-sized pools, a diving well, recreational swimming area and a dome covering some of it. But the cost has fluctuated, and plans have been revised more than once to meet Coastal Commission dictates and ensure the city could afford it.
The city has already set aside most of the money and would need to find another $8.7 million for a revised design, City Manager Tom Modica told residents at a community meeting Tuesday, but officials are hoping private fundraising and tasteful corporate sponsorships such as naming rights can close the gap.
One of the biggest factors forcing the city to trim costs is a looming 2024 statewide ballot measure that could reduce Long Beach’s revenue from oil operations and other coastal activities.
“This project has always kind of chased dollars. It’s always been aspirational,” Modica said.
“We really need to reset and get back to where a project is actually fundable.”
The new pool complex would finally fill the void left by the original Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, which opened in 1968 and was torn down in 2014 due to earthquake safety issues. A temporary pool has been in place for nearly a decade, and Modica said that while it needs some repairs, the city would like to keep it around as long as possible.
More than 100 residents showed up Tuesday to hear about the Belmont pool proposal and ask questions or share their thoughts. It was clear no project will please everyone: While some residents were happy that the new project would preserve the adjacent park with its smaller footprint, others questioned the zip lines and climbing walls and said they’d rather have facilities more oriented to competitive swimming and diving.
But more than one resident urged the city to just get a pool built, and one woman won some applause when she said, “we have to just take something that’s good instead of waiting around for something that will be perfect, and I think this plan is good.”
Councilmember Kristina Duggan, whose district includes the pool, said after the meeting that people seemed to like the proposed design, and “I think I heard a consensus of wanting to move forward.”
Modica encouraged people to submit their feedback. Comments will be accepted through July 18 at belmontpool.com. A presentation with all three current options, cost estimates and a work timeline can be found here.