The Belmont Olympic Plaza Pool in Long Beach, California, made its first mark on the swimming community by hosting the 1968 and 1976 Olympic Trials, which was notable at the time as it was a rare indoor meet of such a level of significance.
According to an Environmental Report, specifically the Initial Study, released by Long Beach Planning, though, the new Belmont pool will be unable to support such indoor, long course competition.
The City of Long Beach, now several weeks past the demanded completion of the bidding process, have not released the name of the company that will construct the pool that has served as the crowned-jewel of Southern California Swimming as one of the state’s few indoor competition pools. The old Belmont Pool, nearly 50 years old, was deemed unsafe earlier this year, and the Earl Corporation has been chosen to build the temporary outdoor 50 meter pool that will be used in its stead until a new permanent facility can be completed.
When looking through to page 5 of the Initial Study, the best description yet is given of what the new pool would look like. Because of zoning laws, a “height variance” would be required to allow for the proposed 68 foot height of the building, and specifically to have an indoor 10 meter platform.
Indoors will have two pools: one will be a 30 x 60 foot warm water ‘instructional pool’ that will serve purposes outside of the realm of competitive aquatic sports.
What’s particularly unnerving, though, is the description of the indoor competitive pool. It is not described in specific detail, however, it does state that:
The proposed indoor pool configuration would allow for recreational and instructional uses and would comply with the preferred rules standards for all aquatic sports except long course swimming.
This means that while the indoor pool would be usable for Pac-12 Championships, for example, which is in yards, but not for any Junior Olympic or National competition.
Those meets would all be designated for the outdoor pool, which would be approximately “20,000 (square feet) of swimming pool, generally rectangular in shape, with a large shallow-water and competitive feature at one end. This configuration will allow for recreation and instructional uses and will comply with the preferred rules standards for swimming and water polo. This pool will be capable of hosting all national- and international-level competitions.”
With only an outdoor option to host long course meets, Belmont suddenly becomes less valuable to the community as a whole, as there are several other outdoor long course options in Southern California. It does not, however, become invaluable, simply less unique.
The plan also calls for the closing of existing on-street parking, which means less parking for meets.
The Demolition of the current facility is slated to take 6-9 months, with the new pool being given a broad range of 1-2 years following demolition. That puts a final target date of being open by 2017.
To read the full slate of Environmental Reports, go to the Long Beach Planning group’s website here.