Long Beach officials on Friday marked the opening of a new junior lifeguard facility, a $2.8 million project that includes a stingray response room and second-level viewing deck.

The new station, located at Ocean Boulevard and Claremont Place in Belmont Shore, will include space for dozens of lifeguards who patrol the bay and beaches during summer months.

Many of the young lifeguards were on hand for Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, including Valeria Gamez Hernandez, a junior lifeguard intern. She joined the program in 2019 and said it changed her life.

“I can attest to the program’s immense potential to shape a kid’s life,” she said. “A big part of who I am today is because of this program.”

Work on the station included a new foundation, utilities, restrooms, a kitchen and locker rooms. The cost of the project also includes the demolition of the old building, expected to take place this fall.

“This new facility is really going to help our marine division do their job effectively,” said Fire Chief Dennis Buchanan, whose two kids went through the program.

The project was paid from the Tideland’s Fund, a special pot of money that comes mostly from oil revenue and must be used in the coastal area.

City officials celebrate the opening of the new junior lifeguard facility at Ocean Boulevard and Claremont Place in Belmont Shore. Photo courtesy of the city of Long Beach

Melissa Evans is the Chief Executive Officer of the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-512-6354.