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Los Al Will Fund Gym Upgrade, New Public Restrooms

The City Council votes to help school district pay for Oak Middle School Gym and add new bathrooms for Oak Field patrons.

Los Al Will Fund Gym Upgrade, New Public Restrooms

Funding for new restrooms for Oak Field and an update to a much-used school and community gym was approved by the Los Alamitos City Council last week.

Officials voted 4-1 Sept. 17 to help fund a Los Alamitos Unified School District plan to renovate Oak Middle School Gym and turn the room separating the school's girls and boys locker room into a public restroom.

The council decided to spend no more than $300,000 or 1/3 the cost of the entire project with the district expected to pay the rest. The final construction costs are unknown because the district has not gone out to bid for the project yet.

According to a city staff report, the gym was built in 1974 with funds from the county of Orange, LAUSD, the city and the Los Alamitos youth center and is “in poor shape and in dire need of renovation.”

Resting on school district property, students use the gym during school hours and the city and community groups use it when school is not in session.

The staff report did not specify what renovations were planned for the gym.

The district plan also includes changing the existing mechanical room between the boys and girls locker room into a permanent public restroom with three to four stalls for each gender.  

According to city staffers, the restrooms would be available to Oak Field visitors and other community residents as the school already has bathrooms for students.

Construction is expected to start June 2013 and the project is scheduled to be completed by August 2014.

Mayor Pro Tem Marilynn Poe, who along with City Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia worked with the district to set up the proposed funding arrangement, said she supported the gym upgrade and the new restrooms, especially given the state of the portable toilets currently by Oak Field patrons.

“Those port-a-potties are not nice and this (the new restrooms) would be such an asset to our community and to the Rossmoor community,” Poe said. “We’re always looked on as the bad guys, but this is something we can do for everyone in this community.”

In its vote, the council did not specify a funding source, and that did not sit well with Councilmember Ken Stephens who cast the sole "no" vote. 

Stephens said that the council was delaying the decision on “where the money’s going to come from.”

“I still don’t feel comfortable with it,” Stephens said. “We’re sort of kicking the can down the road for us.”

City Manager Angie Avery said that item was an “unprecedented” opportunity to the help out the local school district.

“This is our one shot, as a city, to weigh in on this, because it’s part of their ambitious modernization program funded by Measure K,” Avery said. “They have a stellar track record thus far of completing their modernization (projects) on time.”

In 2008 voters approved $126 million Bond Measure K, and the district has been using bond monies to perform a number of repairs and upgrades to schools including replacing electrical wiring, updating computers and fixing air-conditioning ventilation systems.

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