LOS ANGELES — Plans to upgrade a site once used by the Sea Scouts for boating activities have been circulating for years and they are back on the table as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors reviewed the venue’s refurbishment plans and revised budget last month.
Updated and expanded plans could cost the county at least $6.4 million, more than double the previously established budget. The county approved a construction budget of nearly $2.8 million in 2010, which was higher than an initial estimate of about $1.3 million in 2008, according to official records.
County officials say the Boathouse, once construction plans are realized, will feature new restrooms, a storage area, machine room, seismic upgrades and access points meeting Americans with Disabilities Act standards. A public viewing area could be added to the top floor.
“We think [improvements to the Boathouse] will allow the facility to provide a variety of public benefits to the community, including those who want to recreate on the water,” said Carol Baker, spokesperson for L.A. County’s Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH).
The expanded budget request would, according to county staff, adjust several elements of the project’s redevelopment.
“The revised project will change the interior floor plan layout and repair and reconfigure the top roof deck as a public viewing area. These changes required the installation of a fire sprinkler system in the building,” county staff stated. “The project scope will be expanded to include site improvements to provide improved access to and around the Boathouse, including resurfacing and restriping of the parking lot and construction of enhanced pedestrian walkways with associated landscaping improvements.”
County officials anticipate construction will begin in March 2016 and be completed nine months later.
“Renovation of the Boathouse will allow us to better serve the boating community in a number of ways. The Boathouse will have meeting space for groups to gather and conduct indoor training. The department also will make kayaks and other watercraft available to members of the public who wish to rent them and take them out in the marina,” Baker said.
DBH currently manages and operates the Boathouse. Cal Boating and lifeguards from the county’s Fire Department use the venue for training purposes; DBH operates an educational program — Water Awareness, Training, Education, and Recreation, or W.A.T.E.R. — out of The Boathouse. W.A.T.E.R. educates and trains children in equipment, kayak and sailing safety.
“The W.A.T.E.R. program provides ocean safety days to more than 6,000 students from across the county each year during the school year. During the summer and on holiday school breaks, the W.A.T.E.R. program offers sailing lessons to youngsters. That programming also will be conducted out of the Boathouse and the docks adjacent to the facility,” Baker said.
Before the venue was dubbed “The Boathouse” it was the Pardee Sea Scout Base. The Boy Scouts of America held a 30-year lease on the base until DBH took possession of the property and venue in September 2002, according to county documents. The Sea Scouts remained at the base for an additional 15 months under a joint use agreement with the county. Officials shut down The Boathouse in January 2004 but allowed the Sea Scouts to continue using the venue’s docks. A permit granting the Sea Scouts use of the docks was in place through December 2008; the sea base no longer exists in Marina del Rey.
The Boathouse’s history in Marina del Rey might strike a chord with supporters of the O.C. Sailing and Events Center in Dana Point, where Orange County officials seek a private vendor to operate the waterfront venue. O.C. Sailing and Events center houses the Sea Scouts and various nonprofits promoting boating and water education. There have been concerns whether the new vendor, once selected, will allow the nonprofits to continue operating out of the center.
The Boathouse is a three-story and 6,000-square-foot building located at Burton Chace Park.
Baker said the Boathouse, once complete, will be home to the Boating Section and Recreational Services. Staff members of both departments will operate the venue and work from there. The venue’s two internal meeting rooms and the rooftop deck will be available for rental for small events, according to Baker.