Dockweiler aquatic facility

BY VINCE ECHAVARIA

A new aquatic center is set to be constructed at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey for youths wanting to get involved in a variety of ocean-related recreational activities.

The California Coastal Commission approved a proposal Tuesday, April 11th, from the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors to construct a 9,000-square-foot youth aquatic center for the county’s year-round youth recreation programs.

The two-story aquatic center will be at 12503 Vista del Mar, south of Imperial Highway and across from the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey.

“We’re thrilled,” Department of Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman Dusty Crane said of the project approval. “This will be a beautiful facility and it’s in a beautiful location.”

The $3.8 million facility will include a lobby, a 3,000-square-foot community room, a kitchen, program administrative offices, restrooms, locker rooms, a storage area for program equipment and vehicles, and a ground-floor viewing terrace.

County officials hope to have the new aquatic center open by spring 2008, Crane said.

Al Padilla, coastal commission program analyst, said the commissioners supported the project because they felt it would enhance the amenities of Dockweiler Beach by providing recreational activities to youths.

The facility will be constructed into a bluff, west of the parking lot, and will extend about 45 feet into the sand on the beach, Padilla said.

The coastal commission approved the proposal with conditions, but rejected a commission staff recommendation to move the facility away from the beach to limit encroachment onto the sand, he said.

“The commission felt that the location was far enough back away from the wave uprush zone and would not prove to be a hazard,” Padilla said.

If the county had had to move the facility off the sand, it would then encroach on the parking area and the costs for a redesign would have been “devastating,” Crane said.

County officials selected the site at Dockweiler Beach because it allows for “circulation of buses and cars” to drop the children off at the center, Crane said.

The Dockweiler Beach aquatic center is part of the county’s plan to provide three facilities for the Water Awareness, Training, Education and Recreation (WATER) youth program, which aims to educate youths and increase awareness of ocean and beach safety, Crane said.

The WATER program offers a variety of ocean-related recreational activities for youths seven to 17 years old, instructed by experienced county lifeguards.

The program makes an effort to support children with limited access or opportunity to experience ocean- and beach-related activities, county officials said.

The two other aquatic facilities planned will be at Will Rogers State Beach and part of the proposed expansion of Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey, Crane said.

The WATER program headquarters is currently on Fiji Way in the Marina, but the facility planned for the Chace Park expansion will focus primarily on sailing and boating, Crane said.

The aquatic centers at both Will Rogers Beach and Dockweiler Beach will be geared toward ocean-related sports, including surfing and ocean kayak- ing, and will also offer junior lifeguard programs, she said.

The new Dockweiler Beach aquatic center will help the county improve its WATER program by increasing the number of youths served and reducing the amount of time it takes to transport children to the facility, she said.

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