Aquatic center being built in school parking lot

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Wave Staff Report

WHITTIER — County Supervisor Janice Hahn joined Whittier Union High School District school board members and other county officials on the Pioneer High School campus March 12 for a ceremonial groundbreaking marking the beginning of construction of a new aquatic center in West Whittier.

“Public pools are important,” Hahn said during the ceremony. “They are where kids learn to swim, they are safe places for teens to hang out on summer afternoons, and they are affordable ways for families to spend quality time together. The West Whittier community deserves a great public pool and soon they will have a world class aquatic center.”

The Whittier Aquatic Center, being built in the parking lot of Pioneer High near the intersection of Washington and Pioneer boulevards, will include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a practice pool, a roughly 9,000-square-foot pool building with offices, locker rooms, restrooms and classrooms, and 10,000 square foot of public park space. It will be the first public pool to serve the unincorporated West Whittier area. The closest county-run pool is nearly eight miles away.

“Today’s groundbreaking of the Whittier Aquatics Center … continues the actionable phase of building an Olympic-sized competition swimming pool and facility,” said Norma Edith García-González, director of the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department. “This capital project will significantly benefit the West Whittier-Los Nietos community. We look forward to providing an array of swimming recreation and aquatic programs.”

Funding for the $29.9 million project comes from Hahn’s discretionary account. The site is being provided by the Whittier Union High School District.

“Here today, we are celebrating a wonderful example of inter-agency collaboration, where different entities come together, share resources and coalesce,” said Whittier Union High School District school board President Ralph Pacheco. “As a rule, it takes a normal course of two to three years to get to this point. We did it in a year. Congratulations to all of you, both on the county side and the district side, who were instrumental in expediting this project — not just for the purposes of expedition, but for the purpose of making a project happen for our community.”

The county Department of Parks and Recreation will operate the facility through a contract with the school district, and has plans to incorporate a youth employment plan. Classes to be offered will include swim lessons, junior lifeguard training, synchronized swimming, water polo and diving.

The Olympic-sized competition pool will also provide a venue for local swim teams and will be certified to host swimming and water polo competitions.

“This project will provide South Whittier-Los Nietos, one of the county’s oldest communities, with much-needed economic stimulus,” said Mark Pestrella, director of the county’s Department of Public Works. “Investing in public infrastructure has been proven to bring jobs back quickly and support long-term economic recovery.

“This is a nearly $30 million project that will be built through the Community Workforce Agreement, which provides a steady supply of skilled and trained craft workers and provides economic stimulus to local communities.”

The project is part of a project labor agreement that mandates that at least 30% of the construction hours will be done by local workers.

The Whittier Aquatic Center is expected to be completed in fall 2022.