Local News

Thursday, Jul 12 2012 10:00 PM

City proposes new options for closed pools

BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

The aging, leaky city pools at Bakersfield's Planz and Siemon parks could be replaced by a skate park at one and a splash pad at the other.

Those were two ideas city council members and staff floated at a meeting of the Community Services Committee Thursday.

The pools, both built in the early 1960s, have been closed for three summers now to save money, about $48,500 a year. At the last committee meeting in May, city staff said because of the age of the pools and the fact they've sat empty for years, it would take $279,000 to repair and reopen them.

Repairs are needed on drains, water lines, pumps and the pool decks. Both pools leak.

Councilmembers Jacquie Sullivan, Rudy Salas and David Couch asked city staff in May to come up with some options.

For the Planz pool, in south Bakersfield, Arnold Ramming of the Public Works Department outlined a plan to demolish the existing pool and replace it with a skate park, at a cost of $300,000. Salas suggested a modified version of that plan, building a smaller skate park and adding more picnic area.

For the pool in Siemon Park, in northeast Bakersfield, city staff suggested demolishing the existing pool and building a splash pad in its place. It could look like the spray park at Wayside Park, Ramming said. The total cost for that option would be $550,000, which would include $100,000 to upgrade restrooms by the splash pad.

Sullivan said she didn't want to close the door on the possibility of having pools at the parks again in the future.

Ramming also presented options to build new, modern pools in the two parks. Each would have swim lanes and a side "zero-depth" area for young children. But the cost for those two options make them unrealistic choices, according to City Manager Alan Tandy.

To replace the Planz pool with a new six-lane pool and side pool area for toddlers and add a new restroom would cost $3.5 million. The new pool option, plus a new restroom, for Siemon Park would cost $3.7 million.

Ramming also laid out options that would build all of the elements -- a skate park and pool at Planz (total cost of $3.65 million) and a splash pad and pool at Siemon (total cost of $4.2 million).

"There isn't in the short-term a liklihood of vast revenues coming in from park development fees," Tandy said. Other funds that could be used to build new pools are tied up by major projects like the Thomas Roads Improvement Program projects, several of which are ramping up toward construction in the next few years, he said.

"I do not anticipate in any time I can put a date on having, say, $7 million to do the two pools. ... We are revenue-constrained for the more extensive improvements for the foreseeable future."

Reopening the existing pools wouldn't be a good option, either, city staff said. For example, old reopened pools would require ongoing fixes.

"Once we get into it, it will not be cheaper," said Recreation and Parks Director Dianne Hoover. "The problems just get multiplied and worse."

The city now operates four pools and eight spray parks.

The next step is for city staff and Councilmen Salas and Russell Johnson for Planz Park and Ken Weir for Siemon Park to meet with residents in those areas about the different options. That would happen sometime in the next two months, Hoover said.

City staff are recommending the cheaper options, but the plans to build new pools will be presented, too. The caveat will be that the splash pad and skate park could be built in the next fiscal year, 2013-14, by using park development fees. But building new pools wouldn't have a definite timetable.

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