Van Ness Recreation Center Pool Images courtesy of Benny Chan

This is one time when it is more than okay to double-dip! With two brand new swimming pools opening at two different parks, South LA is summer-ready! On Saturday, June 26, Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson of the Eighth District will lead a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Algin Sutton Park in Vermont Vista, and Van Ness Recreation Center in the Crenshaw District to celebrate two newly installed swimming pools, water play areas, renovated bathhouses, and new landscaping at each park. Michael Shull, general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks, will join the Councilmember, along with community members, neighbors, and families. The public is invited to join the festivities.

Both parks are holding events on Saturday, June 26. Algin Sutton Park is located at 8800 South Hoover, Los Angeles, CA 90044. Programming for the ribbon cutting goes from 12:00 to 1:30 pm. Van Ness Recreation Center located at 5720 S. 2nd Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90043, will begin the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:00 to 3:30 pm.

Harris-Dawson launched this project when he was elected to the Eighth District and learned the Van Ness Recreation Center had been without a pool for almost a decade and that the pool at Algin Sutton Park needed serious repairs. The Councilmember’s team partnered with the Department of Recreation and Parks, Bureau of Engineering, and Lehrer Architects to assess the financial need. Once funding was secured, the community became part of the team and authored the vision for their outdoor space. This is a major development for the park and the neighborhood and will bring much-needed recreational resources to both neighborhoods.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris Dawson

“What a perfect beginning to summer,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson, the pools, the programming at every South LA park, and the recreational spaces are all part of restoring the social infrastructure of our neighborhoods. Our parks and pools play a key role in facilitating community life, increasing well-being, and reducing the social costs of isolation and stress. This $17M investment in infrastructure has been a long time coming. I’m glad we found the political and community will to create and upgrade the open spaces where families and friends can gather,” said the Councilmember.

All South LA parks will offer a summer camp experience for children aged 6-14 years old with classes such as yoga with the Tree Yoga Cooperative, dance with CONTRA-TIEMPO, soccer, art, swimming and so much more. Families can register at Summer Universal Play Youth Fitness.

Parks are where families meet, friends are made, and the foundation of a community takes root. Especially so for people who might not have access to transportation or the desire to go to the beach. Neighbors, friends, and families at both parks will be able to stay cool and connected this summer in the new Olympic short-course-sized swimming pools, which are outfitted with the latest state-of-the-art equipment; heating systems, filters, and pumps, designed to allow for year-round operation. A shaded seating area will provide respite from the sun, and both pools have a Splash Pad where anyone can cool down. Those who swim at the Van Ness site can enjoy a ride on a 42’ ft. slide that’s sure to bring joy and excitement to kids and to those who are kids at heart.

Algin Sutton Recreation Center Pool Images courtesy of Lehrer Architects

“We are grateful to be able to provide South Los Angeles neighborhoods with two new, state-of-the-art facilities,” says Mike Shull, general manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. “The Algin Sutton and Van Ness swimming pools will be critically important not only to promoting general health and wellbeing for everyone in our community, but also creating opportunities for people of all ages to learn how to swim, become a part of a team, and begin anticipating the arrival of the 2028 Olympic games coming to L.A.”

This summer, LA City Parks pools will be providing swim lessons, aquatic team sports, junior lifeguarding, and recreational swimming at over 50 locations citywide. For more information on pool locations, hours, and to register visit

Swimming pool COVID-19 protocols include one swimmer per lane and up to three swimmers in one lane if they belong to the same household or group. Face coverings will be required for all staff and patrons while indoors. While outdoors, wearing a face-covering is optional for both staff and patrons. Non-household members, other groups, and employees must continue to practice social distancing and observe six feet distance from others.

In coordination with the Department of Cultural Affairs, two murals, “Above the Water, See the Light,” and “Joy” was commissioned for the east and west facades of the new Bathhouse Building at Van Ness Recreation Center. Artist Michael Massenburg proposed murals and collaborated with the community to create artwork that captures the joy of the people who use the pool. Using figurative and collage elements the murals are a beautiful interplay of water and light. Massenburg has painted murals in the community for decades and his work is known nationally as well. For this project, he was assisted by Jonah Elijah.

Algin Sutton Recreation Center Pool and Facilities
Algin Sutton will be open as a year-round pool – engaging the neighborhood youth and family to use the park as a communal space. The park will be fully staffed and fully programmed year-round. This is an investment in equity, these changes will bring change to the neighborhood. The scope of the work includes constructing a new 75’ x 120’ swimming pool and renovation of the existing Bathhouse.

The new pool is designed to divide and operate in three sections, with the middle section containing eight competition lanes, flank on both sides by three feet shallow waters that allow for other swims activities, for example, water aerobics, swim lessons, free play, etc.
The pool facility is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art equipment: heating system, pool heater, filter & pumps, etc., and designed to allow for year-round operations. The pool is surrounded by plenty of seating areas, a Splash Pad, new aquatic equipment, landscape planting, and irrigation to augment the existing surrounding recreational park elements.

With regard to the existing bathhouse building centering 88th Street on the back of the park, a new canopy shade structure stretching between the existing bathhouse and 88th Street to create a strong presence. The canopy shade structure provides shading for spectators’ seating between the new pool on the north side and the new splash pad on the south side. The security light poles provide night lights at the perimeter of the pool and throughout the splash pad area to address the community concerns on security issues on the backside of the park.

Van Ness Recreation Center Pool and Facilities
The Department of Recreation and Parks and the Council District 8 Office of Marqueece Harris-Dawson requested the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) to replace the much-needed existing pool and bathhouse. The existing bathhouse and pool were originally constructed in 1958 and were in a dilapidated state and closed since the Summer of 2007.

The scope of the work includes an approximately 5,000 S.F. new bathhouse, a 75’x120’ swimming pool which includes eight competition lanes in the middle and two shallow side ends for other swim lesson activities, a surrounding pool deck, plenty of shaded seating areas, a splash pad area, new aquatic equipment, including pool heating system, pool filter, pumps, etc. necessary for year-round operation for the pool facility, and new landscape planting and irrigation to augment the existing surrounding recreational park elements. It should be noted, that if not for the feedback and coordination provided by the community, the scope of work would not have included the addition of a splash pad play area and a water slide, which have improved the overall project significantly.

Public Art at Van Ness Recreation Center
Art elements are part of the landscape and the Department of Cultural Affairs was instrumental in the coordination and installation of two murals on the east and west facades of the new Bathhouse Building. Artist Michael Massenburg collaborated with the community to create two murals that enhance the park space. Both murals depict a sense of community and a carefully considered color palette that integrated with the architectural elements of the new building. The east wall mural is 13’ x 38’ ft. and is acrylic paint and the west wall mural is ceramic tile and is 18’ x 34’ ft. Massenburg was assisted by artist Jonah Elijah.