GUEST COLUMN: Imperial needs a new pool
For the last two years the children of Calipatria have been swimming in a six-lane, 25-yard competition pool constructed by the Calipatria School District. The $2.5 million pool was funded partly by state monies with the remaining $700,000 paid for by the school district.
Most impressive is the joint venture being undertaken by the Calexico Unified School District and the city of Calexico to replace Calexico High School’s pool, which was irreparably damaged in the 2010 Easter Sunday earthquake. The city and school district created the Calexico Pool Joint Powers Authority to join forces to build a new pool. Funding for the pool’s $3.3 million price tag is coming from the city’s Measure H bond and from the district’s FEMA earthquake funds and is in the final stages of formal approval.
While other communities progressively move forward to build needed swimming pools for their residents, Imperial citizens utilize a pool owned by the Imperial Unified School District which is 59 years old. The small five-lane pool cannot even be used by the Imperial High School swim team for competition because it does not meet CIF specifications for proper distance.
The limited size of the pool also impacts the high school swim practices with 36 swimmers attempting to train in only five lanes.
In the summer it’s even more crowded as the Imperial recreational swim team invades the pool with 140 swimmers. The Sea Lions are forced to create three separate practices to accommodate its multitude of swimmers.
The city of Imperial operates and maintains the pool during the summer months to provide its community members with recreational activities, which include the Sea Lion swim program, water fitness programs for adults, public open swim and community events.
Imperial City Manager Marlene Best stated the “current pool does not meet the needs of the community.” Best stated that the city applied for a Proposition 84 State Parks Grant for a community aquatic complex in 2011 but was denied.
Imperial Unified School District Superintendent Lisa Tabarez also agreed a new pool is a priority but stated the ultimate decision is up to the school board.
IUSD architect Jimmy Sanders stated a new swimming complex to include a 10-lane 25-yard competition pool would cost in the ballpark of $4 million.
Given the fact the school district and city already share the pool, the two public entities should create the Imperial Pool Joint Powers Authority to collectively design and construct a swimming facility that will meet the needs of both parties. There is a precedent for this already.
In 2006, the city contributed $1.5 million to the construction of the Frank Wright gymnasium in a joint-use agreement allowing the city’s Parks and Recreation Department access to the facility for its various athletic programs.
Taking into consideration the city uses the pool during the summer months, it should be obligated to pay one-quarter of the costs, which equals $1 million. The city currently has $1.4 million in its Park Impact Fees account and is counting on $1 million in former Redevelopment Agency money to be redistributed into its general fund following state compliance issues to be resolved.
On the part of the IUSD, it currently has a healthy reserve of $11 million and $10.8 million in developer fees at its disposal.
It is my hope that the city of Imperial and the IUSD will join forces to build an aquatic complex that our entire community can benefit from and take pride in.