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Pool divide gets deeper

March 21, 2006|By Kathleen Stinson

Two members of the Newport Beach City Council have waded into the debate over the length of the swimming pool at the proposed community center in Santa Ana Heights.

Council members Tod Ridgeway and Leslie Daigle have asked the city to hire outside experts to lay out the pros and cons of a 25-meter versus a 50-meter pool.

The Santa Ana Heights Project Advisory Committee, a group representing local residents, has thrown its support behind the smaller pool.

A 50-meter pool would take away space that could be used for tables, chairs and an outdoor field, according to committee chairwoman Barbara Venezia.

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"If Leslie [Daigle] and Tod [Ridgeway] see such a need for a large pool and aquatic center, then I suggest they do one of two things," Venezia said. "The city needs to take more control over what happens at the Marian Bergeson Aquatic Center [at Corona del Mar High School] ? or find the dollars and look to build a proper aquatic center somewhere else within the city." The planned 48,000-square-foot community center, which will contain classrooms, a catering kitchen, a gymnasium and a multipurpose room in addition to a pool, will replace a much smaller YMCA facility at 2300 University Ave. The city will own the building and the land, but the YMCA will operate the center, an arrangement that will save the city on operating expenses.

The current YMCA on University Avenue has about 2,000 members but serves close to 7,000 people.

The City Council has not yet made a final decision on the pool's size, City Manager Homer Bludau said.

"There are some users in the community who would rather see a 50-meter pool," Bludau said. A larger pool could be used for swimming competitions.

Daigle pointed out that Newport Beach now has no city pool.

"The YMCA has people beating down their doors to go to its pool," she said. Because the council members are not experts on aquatics facilities, Daigle said, the city needs to hire a third-party to look at the possibilities for aquatics programming and facilities.

Before any decisions are made as to the size of the pool, the city will hold public hearings.

QUESTION

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