ESCONDIDO — The city has hired an Irvine-based consultant to help design a new aquatic center to replace the existing, smaller James A. Stone Municipal Pool at Grape Day Park.
The Escondido City Council agreed to enter into a $1,040,400 agreement with LPA, Inc. to design the $12 million aquatic center, which is projected to be finished by October 2025.
As part of the package, the firm will also assist in completing the Grape Day Park Master Plan, which needs to be updated to include new elements, such as a new location for the restrooms and other amenities.
Considerations for the new aquatic center include a lap and competition pool, a recreational pool, splash pad, locker rooms and other pool support offices, landscaping and parking lot reconfiguration. Adding diving boards has also been suggested.
“The community has been waiting decades for an aquatic center, so I’m really happy that this is happening,” said Councilmember Consuelo Martinez.
According to Danielle Lopez, assistant director of Community Services, the aquatic center will serve the entire community and significantly benefit high school aquatic sports programs.
“Our existing facilities are heavily used by our high school aquatics program for practices but are not suitable for competitions, so our teams have to travel outside of Escondido to host their games and tournaments,” Lopez said at the Aug. 24 council meeting.
Before work on the pool design can begin, the Grape Day Park Master Plan update needs to be completed, which is expected to take about seven months of community and stakeholder outreach. Lopez said once the plan is finished and the city requests bids for construction of the park updates, the design of the aquatic center can begin.
The park’s new restroom facilities are in the design phase. The restrooms’ location, not included in the original Grape Day Park Master Plan, has been moved to the center of the park.
Other elements included in the park update include a new stage area, a walkway and a bump-out for food trucks.
The master plan update is expected to be finished by March 2023. The aquatic center design phase will likely stretch from April 2023 to June 2024, followed by construction ending in the fall of 2025.
Funding for the project comes from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) COVID-19 relief funds. Lopez noted the funds must be spent by 2026.
“It’s really important that this project gets started as soon as possible and stays on track,” Lopez said.
Out of seven bid responses, the city chose LPA due to its experience with building sports and aquatic facilities. The firm has completed approximately 50 aquatic centers across the nation. Currently, it has at least 14 other aquatic projects in design or construction phases, according to Arash Izadi, director of the firm’s sports and recreation team.
“Aquatics is really a focus for us,” Izadi told the City Council.
Lopez assured council members that the staff believes LPA will help keep the project on track.