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Officials upbeat about Verdugo Park pool

Residents say they're almost afraid to believe stalled project is moving forward.

June 12, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com
  • The swimming pool at Verdugo Park has been closed since 2008. The project is slated to be completed by April 2013.
The swimming pool at Verdugo Park has been closed since… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

It was a mix of frustration and bated breath among residents who attended a public meeting Monday on the progress of revamping the long-closed pool at Verdugo Park.

The meeting — called for by the City Council after fielding complaints from residents who were frustrated by delays in reopening the community pool, which has been closed since 2008 — was meant to catch people up on city plans to move forward with the project.

The council recently signed a nearly $5.2-million construction contract with Novus Construction to revamp the pool. The total budget for the project, roughly $7.3 million, will pay for a new 50-meter pool and a second pool with water slides and locker rooms, all slated to be completed by April.

One of the residents at the meeting was Kelly Roche, whose 14-year-old daughter wants to be a lifeguard and swim instructor.

She came to see “if in fact it's moving forward and what the hold-up has been,” she said.

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Roche, who lives across the street from the park, said that while she's excited to have a pool within walking distance again, the five-year wait and lack of communication still stung.

“Why not be communicative with the community as to the status?” she said before the meeting.

Sean Corrigan, the city engineer overseeing the construction, presented the project to residents, most of whom stayed the roughly 30 minutes to hear about the plans.

Asked by Roche about the lack of response to email inquiries about the project, he said, “It's a long story,” and promised to speak with her privately after the meeting.

City Council members — including Emily Gabel-Luddy, who was at the meeting on Monday — had expressed disappointment with the lack of communication between city officials and residents in calling for the pre-construction outreach.

Construction work, Corrigan said, typically takes place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

He also said residents can expect to see construction trucks gathering at the site soon.

Ian Johnson said that there was speculation about when the pool would open, and that he sent the most recent flier to other parents.

“One parent replied, ‘I'm afraid to believe it's actually going to happen,'” Johnson said.

Johnson's wife, Nancy, was more forgiving than others about the long closure.

“It's kind of what I expected for a large building project,” she said. “I thought maybe [the city] just didn't find the money in the budget. We were just waiting. We weren't up in arms about it. This happens in government and politics. And it happens in building.”

Despite the assurances, she added, the first signs of construction will be a welcome sight.

“It will be nice when the first construction truck rolls around — then it will be real.”

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