Splashing in the sun
By 2001, the 1960s-era swimming pool at La Mirada Regional Park in La Mirada, Calif., was beginning to outlive its purpose. Owned by Los Angeles County, the facility — surrounded by a vast, 100-acre landscape of trees, green hills and a lake — was aging and only available up to 10 weeks each year. A small pool at a nearby university also was unable to meet the needs of the growing Southern California community. “[We] had the traditional [facilities] that the kids could enjoy during the summer, but it wasn’t the same as having an aquatics facility that addressed needs year-round,” says La Mirada Community Services Director Tom Robinson.
A 2001 community survey revealed that, of 29 proposed projects, residents most wanted a new aquatics facility. Meanwhile, a private swim group from City of Industry, Calif., was being forced to leave their aquatics facility after 20 years as a result of development. Aware that La Mirada was considering a new aquatics facility, the group donated $1.1 million to the city to construct a competition-sized pool at the new site. “All of a sudden, we had a pledge of a significant amount of money that was going to assist us in the project, and that became all the more feasible,” Robinson says.
The city council began considering a single facility that would attract entire families as well as competitive swimmers. The city dedicated 18 acres on the western edge of La Mirada Regional Park for the new center.
Construction on the new $42 million facility commenced in August 2006, involving input from city officials, including the city manager, public works director and theater director. In November 2007, Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center opened to 7,000 eager residents. The facility features a section for families and another for competitive swimmers. Buccaneer Bay is a pirate-themed recreational area featuring water slides, a flowing river, play structures and spray areas, as well as decorative elements, including marooned ships, benches and canopies shaped like sails.
A separate area for competitive swim meets and practices features a nautical theme with deep blue and cream colors. It includes a 50-meter pool with 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards, and a 25-yard pool. The pools include large deck space and seating areas. In addition, the center has a therapeutic spa with a view of all areas of Splash!
The facility also is part of a civic center — including city hall, a gymnasium, an activities center, fire station and a county library — that is partly fueling downtown growth in La Mirada. Shortly after Splash! opened, the facility received an Overall Facility Design Award of Excellence and a Neighborhood/Community Life Achievement Award from the California Park & Recreation Society. City officials are planning to add a second 50-meter pool, additional diving boards and a therapeutic pool to Splash! to accommodate community needs for many years to come. “It will be here 50 years from now,” he says. “We’ll still be enjoying this facility. It may have some different features by then, but the basic design of Splash! and the people that it serves will still be here.”