The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to initiate a study that could determine if the city can afford to build a new public swimming pool in North Long Beach.
Four council members signed onto the item that asked the city manager to not only look at potential locations, but at possible funding sources.
Councilman Rex Richardson authored the item and spoke about a video that has been circulating on social media of a group of kids who had jumped a fence in an apartment complex to access the pool, which prompted building management to threaten to call the police.
“They have trunks on, and they’re having a blast,” Richardson said, adding that when it’s hot kids are going to find a way to swim.
Richardson called the video disturbing and called on the city to “put a flag in the ground” and get serious about expanding pool access in the city’s northern area. He called it a climate and equity issue, pointing to data that showed that the North Long Beach area has the most amount of children in the city, while also being one of the hottest areas on average.
“Every year is going to get hotter, that’s just a reality,” Richardson said.
While there are public pools in the city of Lakewood close to North Long Beach neighborhoods, the closest Long Beach public pool is at Silverado Park in West Long Beach. Jordan High School in North Long Beach opens its pool to the public during the summer but is typically closed the rest of the year.
Councilwoman Suzie Price cosponsored the request and said that Long Beach needs to have more opportunities for children. Knowing how to swim should be the norm, she said.
“We are a beach city with a pathetic access to public pool,” Price said. “We just don’t have enough.”
Price represents southeast Long Beach where the city is currently seeking final approval from the California Coastal Commission to replace the old Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool. The cost of the pool is projected to be about $85 million. Funding for that pool is expected to come predominantly from the city’s Tidelands Fund, which is restricted to use in the city’s coastal district.
One of the final components that the Coastal Commission required the city to present before getting the green light to move forward with the new Belmont Pool project is a plan that demonstrates the city can make the pool accessible to all communities.
The city is projecting budget deficits in the immediate future with potentially $36 million in cuts facing city management in 2022. Long Beach was able to use federal COVID-19 aid money to preserve levels of city services this year but still projects millions in deficits over the next three years.
The potential cost for the construction of the pool is not immediately known.
City Manager Tom Modica said that the city is getting updated pricing on pools that have recently been built in the region and will look at joint partnerships that could potentially bring down the cost to the city to build one. Modica said the required work would take some time.
“The point is to really have a project ready and able and if funding sources open up we’ll already have this somewhat underway,” Modica said.
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