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District draws up pool plan

After years of talks, district moves toward scaled-back expansion.

July 21, 2012|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • The pool at La Canada High School.
The pool at La Canada High School.

The La Cañada Unified School District is taking a new tack in its long-standing efforts to improve the pool at La Cañada High School.

After years of discussions about building a new pool to be financed in part by the city and used by both the school and the community at large, the district is exploring a less expensive and less ambitious option.

The plan calls for the existing L-shaped pool to be filled out into a full rectangle, and for a private-sector lender to pay upfront costs the district will then repay. The proposed pool would be large enough to meet California Interscholastic Federation regulations for hosting water polo matches and tournaments, something La Cañada High has never been able to do.

La Cañada board of education member Joel Peterson said the pool could be expanded for between $1 million and $1.5 million, while the price tag for a larger new pool has been estimated at $3.25 million.

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Jeff Olson, who has a son on the La Cañada High water polo team and has filled in as coach, has worked on the district's effort to build a new pool since 2008.

He said without a pool that is a CIF-mandated 25 yards by 20 yards, the Spartans have a tough road.

“It's kind of like practicing at a half court in basketball,” Olson said. “It puts us at a real disadvantage when we play teams that practice in a big pool.”

The current pool is 25 yards by 20 yards in its widest portion, but is only 14 yards wide for much of its length. The school rents the Pasadena City College pool to host non-league and playoff games.

School district officials hope to use revenue from fees charged on new construction in La Cañada to fund the construction, Peterson said.

Those fees net the district $200,000 to $400,000 a year, and Peterson said the district is seeking a lender to front the construction cost in exchange for a cut of future developer fees.

The district cannot tap any of the $25 million in bond funds it received in from 2004's Measure B because the pool wasn't on the original list of bond projects.

In 2008 the district proposed a joint-use pool, hoping the city would use its reserves to pay the up-front costs.

Talks were revived again this year. But after a July 2 City Council study session, Peterson said the district realized the city might not be the ideal partner.

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