Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at squick@voiceofoc.org.

Newport Beach is considering putting a new community pool at Lower Castaways Park.

Currently, both Corona del Mar High School and Newport Harbor High School share their respective pools with city residents. Consequently, those aquatic centers at Eastbluff Drive and Irvine Avenue have limited time and space availability for programming for residents.

According to a city staff report, the proposed new facility would aim to satisfy [the community’s] needs by allowing for increased lap swim hours, year-round swim lessons, and a variety of aquatic based fitness and therapeutic classes for all ages. The addition of a community pool would also free up the high school pools for increased school, club, and competitive programming.”

Staff has proposed as a viable site the Lower Castaways Park, where there are four acres of undeveloped land.

Earlier this month, the City Council voted unanimously in favor of encouraging the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission and the Harbor Commission to consider the possibility of developing the pool at the location.

Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill raised concern over the cost to the city of maintaining the proposed pool. According to the staff report, expected maintenance and operation costs are approximately $250,000 and staff costs approximately $650,000 annually. The pool is expected to generate, depending on community activities offered, approximately $200,000 in revenue each year.

The Friends of the OASIS Senior Center proposed to help fund half of the pool’s construction cost. The senior center has been interested in establishing a therapeutic aquatic center to serve their members but has been unable to find the room.

“We are pretty excited,” said former mayor Evelyn Hart, a member of the board of directors of the Friends of OASIS, “in the community about the City Council considering, at least, about putting together a feasibility report for these pools. We’ve waited ten years, as far as OASIS; we’re pretty heavily involved with saying ‘yes we can do this.’”

Some citizens voiced concern over the proposed location. Newport Beach plans to conduct community outreach meetings and surveys in order to best meet community needs. The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission and an architectural consultant will still need to assess whether Lower Castaways Park will work as a location for a new pool.

The Harbor Commission will meet on Nov. 13 to appoint members to a subcommittee to work with the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission to evaluate the feasibility of a community pool.

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