City officials and local stakeholders on Sept. 6 broke ground on the Hollywood Recreation Center Pool, a 9,575-square-foot, ADA-compliant facility that is scheduled for completion on July 4.
With high humidity and temperatures in the 90s, it seemed cruel to discuss the future opening of a pool, but city officials lauded the beginning of the construction and the interdepartmental collaboration that made the plan a reality.
“We know pools are fantastic for this city,” said Jon Kirk Mukri, the general manager of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks. “This took a lot of effort — a lot of community effort, a lot of council effort.”
He said the pool was originally constructed in 1950, and that it serves between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors each year. The new pool and bathhouse will offer a splash pad, a new pool deck, energy efficient pool equipment, a water slide, bleachers with a canopy, a storm water tank, landscaping, irrigation, artwork and a family changing area. It is expected to operate year-round.
The project, which also includes future gym renovations, is slated to cost $4 million, and will be financed using State Quimby Act and Prop. K funds.
“Thank you, developers, because a lot of money was spent down in this area,” Mukri said, also thanking the voters for approving Prop. K. He also acknowledged the aquatic staff. “You had one of the most successful seasons this year, without any incidents, and I just think that’s fantastic. Congratulations.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who represented the area as a councilman, said Phase II of the project, the gym renovations, has a big gap in funding, but he was pleased to see the first phase move forward “with a great pool.”
“But I look forward to coming to the ribbon cutting here, because this is a significant day for L.A. Hooray for Hollywood,” he said.
Garcetti referenced the city’s success at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and said a young person who uses the future pool may become a great athlete later in life.
“We’re an Olympic talent,” he said. “We’re an athletic talent. And we’re going to make sure young people here become a part of that great tradition.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said the groundbreaking was a “wonderful step” to give children in Hollywood the same accessibility to parks as rural areas.
“It’s just great, and we’re going to have a lot of fun here,” he said.
O’Farrell, chair of the council’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and Los Angeles River Committee, said the use of the Quimby and Prop. K funding shows how essential private, responsible development can be to improving the quality of life in the city.
“That also provides a revenue stream for our parks, so we always need to have a complete conversation about the future of development and the future growth in Hollywood and elsewhere, and how that lends itself to improving the quality of life to our youth and our families because it helps fund facilities like this,” he said, adding that without the funds, the project may not have been possible.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, former chair of the council’s arts and parks committee, lauded the collaboration of community organizations at the Hollywood Recreation Center, such as the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA.
“This is what it’s all about,” he said.
City engineer Gary Lee Moore said the project received a lot of community and neighborhood input before being approved. He also thanked the many partners that have contributed to the new pool. Moore said those partnerships have been important throughout the city’s staffing challenges.
“But we’ve tried to be creative,” he said. “Public/private partnerships are what it’s all about.”
Moore added that the pool will be 145 long and 75 feet wide, with three sets of bleachers for families to use.
Debbie Wehbe, of the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council, said she learned how to swim at the pool as a child, and that one of the council’s board members now brings his daughter to learn to swim.
“That just tells you that this pool is an essential part of our community,” she said. “It really is an essential piece of our Hollywood community, and I just can’t thank you enough for making it happen.”
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