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Scouting out the new digs

July 28, 2000

Alex Coolman

NEWPORT BEACH -- From the balcony outside his office at the Boy Scout

Sea Base, Bill Mountford watches a car try to execute an awkward U-turn

in the narrow parking lot.

It's the kind of thing Mountford, the base director, sees almost every

day -- especially when dozens of parents come to pick up their kids from

sailing programs.

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"When it gets loaded in here, it's a challenge" to drive around, he

says.

But soon enough, the tricky turning situation should have a solution:

the Sea Base is planning a major expansion, which will not only address

its traffic concerns but lay the foundation for future growth.

The $4.5-million project, which is scheduled to begin in the fall of

next year, will see construction of a range of new facilities. The

simplest of them, an additional driveway, should make a major difference

in the ease of traffic flow into and out of the center, Mountford said.

But the project goes far beyond a few yards of asphalt. It will also

bring construction of new classrooms and office space, an amphitheater

and other facilities.

Mountford said the initial plans were not so ambitious.

"We just needed more office space," he said. The current

administrative office crams desks for four employees into a small area

where it's difficult to pay attention to a single conversation or phone

call.

But merely expanding the offices in the existing structure didn't seem

like a workable arrangement. It would have meant hacking space away from

the classroom, a scheme that didn't jibe very well with the center's

long-term plans.

Instead, the base is going to add about 18,000 square feet of interior

space split between new construction and the renovation of existing

structures -- an expansion that Mountford says should give the Scouts

breathing room well into the future.

The scouts hope the larger facilities will help the base handle more

sailors and students. Projects like this month's outreach effort to

students from Stanton are something the base hopes to host more

frequently in the years ahead, Mountford said.

Kent Gibbs, executive director of the Orange County Council of the Boy

Scouts of America, said efforts to find funding for the project, which

will come entirely from private sources, have so far met with encouraging

results.

"We've had an awful lot of people who have given individual

contributions through their personal foundations and also just out of

their own pockets," he said.

But Gibbs said the search for enough money to properly endow the

facility would be a challenge.

"Ongoing [financial support] is always the biggest issue," he said.

FYI

Features of the Boy Scout Sea Base expansion:

* Redesigned parking lot entrance and exit

* Amphitheater

* Equipment storage and maintenance room

A new building featuring:

* three new classrooms

* lounge and conference center

* administrative offices

* shower/restroom facilities

Source: Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America

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