New Rec Center, National AIDS Monument Approved For West Hollywood Park

Tue, May 21, 2013   By James F. Mills    8 Comments
Markus Rogan

Markus Rogan, an Austrian swimmer who won two silver medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece and a gold medal for 200 m backstroke at the 2008 World Championships in Manchester, speaks to the West Hollywood City Council. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

West Hollywood’s City Council voted unanimously to move forward with phase two of West Hollywood Park renovations Monday night, including building a new multipurpose recreation center with swimming pools on the roof, and incorporating a National AIDS Monument into the park.

The new five-story, 71,000-square-foot recreation center will be built behind the current five-story library parking deck, where the El Tovar surface parking lot now sits. The facility will have ground-level parking, plus locker rooms, public meeting room space and an interior gymnasium large enough for two basketball courts. Two pools will be on the roof, one for lap swimming and another for recreational swimming. The estimated cost will be $80 million.

The National AIDS Monument will be located near the grand staircase leading from San Vicente Boulevard to the library entrance.

Many local athletes came out to support the plan for the new recreation center, including Jake Mason, who founded West Hollywood Dodgeball, the largest LGBT dodgeball league in the nation. WeHo Dodgeball currently plays its games in the auditorium in West Hollywood Park.

Jake Mason

Jake Mason, founder of WeHo Dodgeball. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

A number of athletes urged the council not to tear down the existing auditorium and swimming pool on San Vicente Boulevard until the new facility is completed. Currently, the plan is to have the new facility built and operational before demolishing the current buildings.

Water polo player Michael Crosby, who came dressed in nothing but a Speedo bathing suit, praised plans for the new pool, and emphasized to the council how much money gay athletic events, including aquatic sports, bring to the city.

Hunter Halinick, owner at the Gym Bar in WeHo’s gay bar district, where many athletes go after dodgeball and volleyball games, estimated 40 percent of his business came from those athletes.

The location for the two swimming pools proved to be a sticking point for the council, which considered six phase II construction options presented by Heery International, an architectural firm hired to do a “feasibility study” on the park for the city.

michael crosby

Water polo player Michael Crosby. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

Councilmembers John D’Amico and Jeff Prang preferred having basketball courts on the roof of the recreation center, and putting the pools at ground level in the northern portion of the park where the two basketball courts are currently located. A separate pool facility would have lowered the overall cost to $75 million.

However, Councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman, along with Mayor Abbe Land favored putting the pools on the recreation center roof.  Those pools will be the same level as the three tennis courts atop the five-story parking garage.

“It’s an exciting and prominent location,” said Heilman.

An exact design for the AIDS monument has not been determined, but it will likely also include an amphitheatre. The monument will memorialize the AIDS epidemic from a West Hollywood/Los Angeles perspective, honoring those who died and those who survived, as well as allies who helped in the fight.

Duran, who is HIV positive, said that 10,000 people in West Hollywood died during the epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s like a bomb, a nuclear bomb, going off in the center of town,” Duran said.

The park renovations will also see the Tiny Tots preschool building and playground area relocated next to the library. The existing playground area will be transformed into open space.

Construction project manager Dan Adams of Heery International said it would take 12 to 15 months before “ground-breaking” could start and another four years of construction time. The city will issue a “request for proposals” for designs in the coming weeks.

The council asked city staff members to look at options for making the lap pool deeper than the proposed seven feet in the current plan. Twelve feet is needed if the pool is to have diving, but extra support columns in the building’s gym area would likely be needed to support the extra weight of a deeper pool.

The council also suggested the recreation facility should have public restrooms available for clubgoers returning to their cars in the parking deck late at night. Heilman noted that restrooms might prevent people from urinating in the stairwells of the parking deck, a problem he has complained about in the past.

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8 Comments

  1. RikTue, May 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I’m curious why the new West Hollywood Park is mostly devoid of trees for shade. The northern part of the park by the basketball courts is mostly barren. Will this next phase of development include trees?

  2. RileyTue, May 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    75 MILLION TO 80 MILLION? HOW?

  3. Terry SnyderTue, May 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Riley, unlike other cities, west Hollywood is in the black, and has been setting aside funds for these improvements for years

  4. SnarkygalTue, May 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    What is it with this Council’s obsession of putting things on the roofs of buildings? Pools should be at ground level. Just like with their plan for Plummer Park, they want to put a pre-school’s playground on the roof of a building…..insanity!

  5. SnarkygalTue, May 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    @Rik – that is the Council’s vision of what a park should be – flat sightlines. They want to do that to Plummer Park too. Cut down the trees to put in an underground parking garage….Insanity!

  6. GrantkatcherWed, May 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

    TWO pools for the athletes, but not so much as a sprinkler to cool the tykes who use the tot lot. And the Eastside has been asking for a swimming pool since Cityhood. I guess the breeders over there don’t deserve one either.

  7. Rudolf MartinWed, May 22, 2013 at 9:33 am

    @Terry Snyder, you might want to look up how much the city spends on ‘servicing’ bond payments every year before you repeat that mantra. Accounting is a highly creative discipline. I’m not against it though, of course we should build first class recreation facilities. But as usual we will pay way above market rates. Remember today’s $80 million cost estimate when costs go above $100 million in just a few years. Just being realistic…

  8. RileyWed, May 22, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    @Terry, If you go to http://weho.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=22&clip_id=2091 and watch the council mtg, you will hear Duran say (at 2:57:40) that Arevalo has put aside tens of millions of dollars so “we” are able to do this. Then fast forward to Heilman’s comments (at 2:07:40) and he says we have a lot of money set aside but we are going to have to raise money from the community and they are going to look to all of us for help. Then he says something like if anyone wants their name on this project and wants to give “us” a cool 80 million…then Prang says at about 2:09:07, we have the money in the bank to pay for this. So? Which is it? Do we have the $80 million or not? If the pool on the roof plan is $80 million and the pool on the ground plan is $75 million, wouldn’t we want to opt for the pool on the ground and do something like give the $5 million to our schools so the teachers can stop paying for supplies out of their own pockets? I heard that Phase I was $67 million to begin and by the time they got done it was $88 million. I also heard that Charles Cohen offered money for the library if he could have his name on it, but Heilman turned him down. Does anyone know anything about this?

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