belmont pool overall

A rendering of the Belmont Aquatic Center from Ocean Boulevard.

Long Beach’s City Council will conduct a study session Tuesday to go over the draft Environmental Impact Review for a new Belmont Plaza Aquatic Center — two days before the deadline for comments on the report.

The study session begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall. It is the last of three public reviews — the Planning Commission and Marine Advisory Commission both reviewed the EIR last month.

Plans envisioned in the draft EIR are for a 125,000 square-foot translucent bubble — cut off at one end — housing a 50-meter by 25-yard pool, a separate diving well, whirlpools, locker rooms with showers and seating for 1,250 people to replace the old Belmont Pool natatorium. On the east side of the building, a glass wall would look out onto another competition pool (50 meters by 25 meters) and a recreational pool. The entire complex would be surrounded by 55,745 feet of landscaped passive park.

Planning has taken the last two years. The former Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool building was closed in January 2013 after engineers determined it was in danger of collapse if an earthquake hit. It has since been torn down and a temporary above-ground pool installed in the nearby parking lot.

Cost to build the new center was estimated last year at about $103 million. The city had set aside more than $60 million for the project from Tidelands oil revenue before the price of oil collapsed. City staff has been exploring ways to make up the difference, and officials have said construction would not begin until all the financing was in hand.

As required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the draft EIR analyzes both different locations for the pool complex and different sizes of project. The report concludes that only a complex at the proposed site near the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier on the waterfront would meet stated goals.

One significant mitigation required in the EIR is to avoid any tree removal or trimming during bird nesting season. That period stretches from Jan. 15 to Sept. 1. There also is a series of protection measures required during construction to avoid dust, air pollution and other impacts on the neighborhood.

The entire draft EIR is available online athttp://www.lbds.info/planning/environmental_planning/environmental_reports.asp. There also is a link at www.BelmontPool.com through the notice of availability.

Once the comment period closes next Thursday, June 16, the consultant and city staff will prepare answers to comments before issuing a final EIR for approval. That EIR must pass muster with the Planning Commission and City Council to be certified, and any project also would require approval from the state Coastal Commission.

Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at hsalt@gazettes.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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