Council interested in getting Centennial Pool reopened
Closure means that pool has to meet ADA requirements before reopening
The Paso Robles City Council is working on reopening Centennial Pool on Nickerson Drive. At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, city staff presented a report about what would be needed to have the pool reopened and operational by this spring or summer.
The answer to that is more than half a million dollars.
Paso Robles Library and Recreation Services Director Julie Dahlen said, the estimated costs include $213,480 to open the pool for this coming season and $290,000 in deferred maintenance. The estimate does not include the costs for required American with Disabilities Act modifications. In 2013, the city spent $13,816 to keep the pool in a non-operational condition. Because the pool has been closed, reopening it would trigger the need to comply with current ADA requirements.
The City’s Municipal Pool near Flamson Middle School also needs to be up to the standards. But because it has remained operational, City Manager Jim App said, having a plan in place for the modifications is sufficient.
Mayor Steve Martin said he’s not comfortable opening Centennial Pool without the ADA modifications completed because it opens the city up to being sued, which, he said, has happened in the past for its sidewalks not being ADA compliant. The pool was closed in 2011 when the city council voted 3-2 to implement a variety of cost-cutting measures. It was projected that the pool’s closure would save the city $112,000 year. In the four years that it has been closed, the city has saved $448,000.
Dahlen said that if a decision is made soon, staff will have enough time to hire and train pool employees and get the information in the city’s activity guide. However, the council deferred a decision to its March 21 goal-setting meeting so it can have more information, such as a proposed plan and time schedule, in front of them.
“It’ll be very difficult to make a decision without facts and figures,” Mayor Pro Tem Fred Strong said.
Councilman John Hamon Jr. asked if the operation of Centennial Pool has been included in the budget. App said that it has not and if the council decides to go ahead with it for the coming summer, the funds would come from the city’s reserves, which is already being dipped into.
Councilman Jim Reed said that getting the pool ADA compliant for the coming swimming season is “doable.”
“We don’t need to make these things in big, huge monstrosity things,” Reed said. “The only thing that would keep this pool from being open by June would be … slapping a whole bunch of requirements on it.”
Paso Robles resident Kathy Barnett took exception to Reed’s comments.
“I don’t disapprove of reopening Centennial [Pool], but I object to this process,” Barnett said. “I object, Mr. Reed, that ADA is so easy. I don’t believe it’s as simple as you seem to think will be.”
Parks and Rec Advisory Chairman Chris Taranto said that the entire board is in favor of reopening the pool and has put it as a goal.
“We would like to see this pool reopened, but it comes down to what sounds like a very high price tag. … with the pool being closed as long as it has, it’s not a surprise that things have gone into disrepair. I see this as an opportunity to fix it and fix it right and not just slap band aids on it,” Taranto said. “I think it would be the most responsible thing to do is to make sure we’re reviewing all the little things [that go into it].”
Martin acknowledged that there is a tremendous amount of interest from the community to reopen the pool and he promised that, as mayor, he would help with any fundraising efforts to help with the costs of getting the pool reopened.
“I don’t think that would be the right thing to do [to take money out of reserves],” Martin said. “If we’re going to do this, and people want us to do this, we need to do this right.”
The council voted 5-0 to receive and file the report and for staff to present a proposed plan for improvements and ADA for both pools at the council’s goal setting meeting.