LONG BEACH, California, February 13. THE Long Beach City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved construction plans for a permanent facility that will replace the famed Belmont Plaza Olympic pool, stipulating that a state-of-the-art diving well be a part of the design plan.
A story published on Gazettes.com details the early concept for the permanent facility that will be built on or near the site of the Belmont Plaza pool, which was deemed unsafe for use last week. A separate diving well containing 1- and 3-meter springboards, as well as a diving tower as high as 10 meters, was one of the conditions councilman Gary DeLong laid out before the council voted. The former pool also had a diving tower, but it was part of the main competition pool.
“This is a great day for Long Beach,” DeLong said. “We are here tonight to approve creation of a world-class aquatic facility, and I'm confident that we will take that next step. I think the staff has made a great start here, but there are some improvements I think we can add. That will absolutely include a diving well indoors.”
The initial proposal sent to the city council last week did not include plans for a diving well. The diving community started a movement to make sure a diving well would be part of the construction plan. Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic platform champion, sent a letter to DeLong on Monday, detailing a similar plight her home pool in The Woodlands, Texas, faced:
“The WAC (Woodlands Aquatic Center) was torn down, the lot sat vacant for several years and is now home to yet another apartment complex. A new high school natatorium was built across town ignoring many pleas and guidance as to what should be included. It is beautiful, but lacking in many areas including diving platforms.
“We are now missing out on bringing noteworthy national and world class events to the area which bring in a huge boost to the local economy plus recognition to the area. Young athletes no longer have the same amount of time to train toward their college and Olympic pursuits. They have to now travel to other facilities where they pay pool rental to train extra hours and on the diving platforms. That is lost revenue and a huge inconvenience for the athletes and their schedules, as it can be hard to use other pools during normal training hours.
“Please listen and use expert advice, like Debby McCormick, as to what needs to be included in a new facility. Please do not make the same mistake our area did but cast a larger vision for your community and city through this facility.”
Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy, a native of Long Beach, attended last night's council meeting.
Line out the door of the Long Beach City Hall to get the Belmont rebuilt! twitter.com/swimhardy/stat…
— Jessica Hardy (@swimhardy) February 13, 2013
More than one competition pool is expected to be built in the new facility. The Gazettes.com article only mentioned a 30-meter by 30-meter pool that would be 8 feet deep.
While the permanent facility, estimated to cost $62 million, is being constructed, a $4 million temporary facility will be built to host aquatic sports competitions.
Update: Councilman Patrick O'Donnell sent the following letter to his constituents today:
“At last night's city council meeting, a plan put forward by myself and Gary DeLong to rebuild and increase the size of the Belmont Pool passed unanimously. There was great community support, not to mention the Olympians, swimmers and divers that showed up to offer support for the plan which will about double the amount of pool space that the facility presently has for use.
The Long Beach tradition of aquatics will continue.
I thank all those who offered their support and technical expertise over the last several weeks. I now know more about pool construction than i had ever wished. The funds to reconstruct the facility will come from the Tidelands fund, which derives its revenues from oil production. These funds can only be used along the beachfront area. The plan approved last night will accommodate swimmers, divers and water polo.”