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The swimming pool at Ambrose Park in Pittsburg is shown Jan. 6, 2009.

BAY POINT -- After bids came in too high last year for a children's pool at Ambrose Park, a new set of public hearings will be held to figure out how best to spend funds set aside for park improvements.

Ambrose Recreation and Park District board members voted 5-0 Thursday night to hold two weeknight and two weekend meetings. The actual dates and locations will be decided at the board's Feb. 14 meeting.

Ambrose Park is near the Pittsburg-Bay Point BART station. The park used to be part of unincorporated Bay Point but now is located in Pittsburg as a result of the city annexing the land. The park is owned and maintained by the park district, which is in charge of awarding bids for park improvements.

Last December, board members rejected all bids for the pool project after the lowest bid to build the children's pool and demolish the existing eight-lane lap pool came in about $700,000 higher than the $1.6 million budgeted for the project, which included restrooms, an office, a snack bar and a pool equipment building.

The district held two public workshops in 2009 that led to adoption of a master plan for the children's pool project and other Ambrose Park improvements. Board members supported the children's pool, which would have been irregularly shaped and 18 inches deep, on the basis that it would be less expensive to operate than a new lap pool.

Now the pool review process will start again, given that there was not enough money to build the children's pool.

"We need to reopen the whole process to the public," said Bay Point resident Michael Kerr, who also urged board members to provide more information on what it would cost to repair the existing pool instead of building a new pool.

Board member Judy Dawson expressed skepticism about rebuilding the existing lap pool, which has been closed since 2008 for safety reasons and is more than 60 years old. She said it had safety issues related to its drainage and was not compliant with disability access under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"It's not like we said, 'Let's close the pool.' We had reasons for that. We wanted it be accessible," Dawson said.

Board member Lee Mason disputed Dawson's claims and said the old pool didn't need to be closed. Mason was elected to a seat on the district in November after being laid off as the district's director of maintenance three years ago.

"What do we need to do to get the existing pool up and running for the community?" he said. "Yes, the pool has issues, it's over 60 years old .... As far as safety issues, the pool was totally safe for the public to enjoy."

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.