School district releases report on pool fixes
The pools at Alameda Unified’s two swim centers could use up to $4 million in fixes, according to a long-awaited consultant’s report released by school district officials late Friday.
District leaders must now decide whether to fix the pools they have, replace the pools at one swim center or both or build a new aquatic facility to serve the district’s high schools and other Alameda swimmers at another location, according to the report from Aquatic Design Group of Carlsbad.
“Given that the pool configurations at both schools do not satisfy current program requirements the school district will have to determine if large repairs are prudent or should the pools be replaced,” the report concludes. “Whether the school district and community determine that they are best served by repair of the existing pools or the construction of replacement pools the effects on programming and annual operating budgets will have to be considered.”
Pools at the Emma Hood Swim Center at Alameda High School and the Encinal Swim Center at Encinal High School need around $1.7 million in fixes just to bring them into compliance with current codes, according to the report. The report’s authors also recommend upgrades including new pool decks, filter systems and underwater lights for both swim centers, and they suggest solar covers and new, regulation-size pools for each swim center.
The consultant’s findings were based on a visual inspection of the pool areas, the original plans for the pools and staff comments on their condition. The report doesn’t include any fixes that may be needed in other areas of the two swim centers.
The district’s chief budget officer, Robert Shemwell, said the dollar amounts aren’t official but that they do offer a starting-off point for conversations about how to proceed with the pools.
“It’s the beginning point for us to work with the community on solutions,” Shemwell said.
A pools advocate questioned the report’s findings and said it failed to provide solutions to problems swimmers and officials have long been aware of. Swimmer Bob Ploss, who helped lead efforts to get the pools reopened when the district closed them last fall, also said the report’s authors relied on outdated information, listing site constraints that are long gone and at least one job – new pool lights – that is already being completed.
“Alameda needs leadership on this vital civic endeavor, as swimmers keep holding their breath,” Ploss said.
District and city officials are set to meet informally with swim coaches and athletic directors on Tuesday to discuss the report. A subcommittee made up of school board and City Council members will discuss the study and a possible operating agreement for the pools at a March 29 meeting, and the school board will follow up at its April 12 meeting with a discussion on long-range pool operations and plans to engage the community in the process.
School district officials shuttered both swim centers in October after learning from city staffers who manage the pools that they didn’t comply with state and federal pool drain cover regulations. The district hired a consultant to outline needed fixes for the pools, and district officials have been negotiating a use agreement with the city.
County environmental health officials have demanded that the district come up with a long-range plan for operating the pools or shut them down. The pools at Emma Hood were designed in 1955 and those at Encinal, 1961; both swim centers were renovated in 1985.