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Carlsbad places swimming pool measure on November ballot

(Courtesy city of Carlsbad)

Monroe Street pool could get extensive renovation

Carlsbad voters will decide in November whether to spend up to $24 million to renovate and expand the Monroe Street Pool, which was built 38 years ago and was the city’s only municipal pool until the Alga Norte swim complex opened in 2013.

The Monroe Street Pool, located next to Carlsbad High School, needs extensive maintenance to remain operational and to comply with current health and building codes. The City Council also decided last year to expand the pool by adding more lap lanes, a larger deck, additional parking and other facilities.

Because the project will cost more than $1 million and goes beyond basic maintenance, a citywide election is required under a law Carlsbad voters approved in 1982. The City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to place the measure on the ballot, with Mayor Matt Hall and Councilmember Keith Blackburn opposed. It needs a simple majority to pass.

Hall suggested the ballot measure might be more likely to pass if at least one additional capital project was included. He proposed adding a new park, an idea he has long pursued for a strip of land between Carlsbad Boulevard and the beach, stretching more than two miles from the Terramar area to the Encinitas border.

“You are more apt to get citizens to support a ballot initiative if there’s more than one thing on the ballot,” Hall said. “One of the council’s goals since about 2008 was a park from Terramar to Leucadia. Here’s an opportunity ... to move that forward in a timely manner.”

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Blackburn agreed, saying the pool expansion in the northern half of the city and the new park in the southern half would be “something for everybody.”

A majority of the council said the park project is not ready for the ballot, because it needs more work and so far there are no estimates of construction costs.

Councilmember Teresa Acosta said she understands the reasoning for adding a second project, “but ... I don’t think we need another one” because there’s strong public support for the pool renovation.

The ongoing effort to build a new City Hall and Civic Center also was mentioned for possible inclusion in the measure. The city has set aside money for construction, and possible locations have been narrowed to about five. But the council majority agreed it’s not ready for the ballot.

“Right now, we’re just not there with some of those projects,” said Councilmember Priya Bhat-Patel. “It’s not the best time.”

The county Registrar of Voters’ Office has estimated that participating in the November election will cost Carlsbad between $129,000 and $219,000, and that the single additional measure for the pool project will increase the city’s cost by $65,000 to $95,000.

The council has until Aug. 12 to place additional measures on the November ballot, should it decide to do that.

The estimate of Monroe Street Pool renovation costs was adjusted upward in April from an earlier high of a little over $21 million because of concerns about inflation and supply chain issues.

The measure approved Tuesday allows the maximum construction costs to be adjusted upward based on an appropriate regional index, should the project take longer than expected.

Carlsbad’s mayor, City Council District 1 and District 3 seats also will be on the general election ballot Nov. 8.


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