By Jim Shilander
The final shape of the planned rehabilitation of the Ole Hanson Beach Club has still yet to be decided and may not be for some time.
The San Clemente City Council continued discussion of the planned rehabilitation at its meeting Tuesday but ended the discussion deciding to further investigate the proposed plans after residents, as well as council members, voiced concern over the rehabilitation proposal.
Historic architect Christopher Smith called the building “a jewel in so many ways,” and said the three current proposals for the project were based on the historic use of the facility.
The project originally began as a $2.5 million rehabilitation project, Beaches, Parks and Recreation Director Sharon Heider told the council, but examination of the facility revealed more work that needed to be done, increasing the potential price by more than $1 million. The department had proposed putting off some aspects for a later time, as funding became available.
San Clemente resident and contractor Mark Schroeder expressed frustration at the slow pace of the proposal.
“You’re spending all this time and money,” Schroeder said, “but the rest of us just want to go swimming again.” He told the council he was “astonished at the complete lack of progress,” on the proposal.
Schroeder told the council that he’d recently completed work on a historic building in Del Mar that was larger than the beach club and advised doing all of the work on both the pool and, more importantly, the roof at one time.
“The number one priority should be to take care of the structural issues, but if you don’t take care of the roof, it’s like working in the world’s biggest mousetrap.”
Current San Clemente Historical Society President Larry Culbertson and his predecessor, Georgette Korsen, both argued for preserving the historical character of the building as much as possible.
“Let’s be careful about this, this is history,” Korsen told the council.
Others argued for more radical changes to the design proposals on the interior. Resident Ricardo Nicol advised the council to be bold.
“This is one of the jewels of Ole Hanson architecture,” Nicol said. “There needs to be a ‘sense of arrival,’ in the building. Have the interior match the exterior.”
George Gregory said he favored more significant changes, like the addition of an exterior elevator, rather than shoehorning one into the existing structure.
“We should make the building for us,” Gregory said. “Let’s make history instead of preserving it.”
Council member Tim Brown said he thought the plans were close, but still needed work.
“I think we’re 80 to 90 percent of the way there, but there are still some critical issues that need to be ironed out,” Brown said. “I would rather ‘measure twice and cut once.’” He advised holding additional workshops and public forums on the rehabilitation.
Council member Lori Donchak said it was also important to line up the financing for the project and advised Heider to include the future priorities when the city begins to discuss its Capital Improvement Plan.