Committee to Consider a Community Pool at Lower Castaways Park

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A view of the Lower Castaways Park property.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

A community pool at Lower Castaways Park is gaining some traction recently.

At the Nov. 5 meeting, City Council directed the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission and the Harbor Commission to work together to explore the possibility of a community pool at Lower Castaways Park.

The park is 4.04 acres and currently has a few minor leases on the property, according to the staff report. The property is located at the corner of Dover Drive and W. Coast Highway.

Council is “very aware” of the need of the harbor at the site, Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs noted at the Harbor Commission meeting Wednesday.

An aerial view of the Lower Castaways Park property (circled in red).
— Google Map data 2019 ©

Commissioner Don Yahn asked if there might be any type of “turf war” between the PB&R’s objectives and the Harbor Commission’s.

Council wanted to make sure it was a joint-use site, Jacobs said. There was a lot of discussion to ensure that everyone’s interests are accommodated, she added

“Now is a great time to get together, collaborate and decide what should be done,” Chair Paul Blank said.

This could be an opportunity for the Harbor Commission to seize the moment, come up with a viable joint use, and get funding for the project, Commissioner Bill Kenney said.

The Harbor Commission has done a lot of work regarding that property, Jacobs explained.

Blank suggested Commissioner Marie Marston, considering her experience and knowledge as a former PB&R commissioner, should sit on the joint committee.

Commission unanimously agreed 6-0 that Marston, Yahn and Blank (who will be replaced when his tenure ends) will join the committee. It is probably a three-to five-year project, Jacobs noted.

An artist’s rendering from 2014 of one possible version of Lower Castaways Park.
— Art courtesy the city of Newport Beach

Discussions about what to do with Lower Castaways Park have been ongoing for several years. In 2014, plans were conceptually designed, vetted by several city committees and commissions, and then the project was put on hold. The idea was brought up again later and then placed on the back burner. Now, it is once again getting some attention, with the idea of a pool leading the way.

At previous discussion, several ideas were considered, including: Leave as-is for the near future (gravel parking area, hand launch and potable restrooms); upgrade to a more permanent passive park (add bike node, improve visibility from street, better define access entry route, etc.); pursue public-private partnership for park development (rowing, bicycling, water based activity center); or plan, fund, build fully improved active park.

After considering other locations for a community pool, they found that this location was a site that most could agree on and seemed to be the most viable option, Jacobs explained.

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