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County closes Calipatria pools

June 05, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Kids here will have to find someplace else to swim this summer after county Environmental Health Services closed the Calipatria High School pools, citing safety issues and law violations.

The two pools — located next to each other — are the city's public recreation pools during the summer.

School District Superintendent James Hanks said the pools will remain closed for the summer and it is up to the school board to decide whether it wants to repair the pools or build new facilities.

The board will meet Monday. Hanks said after considering the costs to repair the pool facilities, he will recommend an entire new facility be built.

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Repair and upgrade costs at the minimum could be about $300,000, he said, adding that would fulfill the basic needs but the pools still might have problems 10 years from now.

He said to build new facilities would cost about $650,000, adding the district has funds to do that work through a $25 million bond measure approved by district voters in the mid-1990s.

Hanks added the pools have lasted some 40 years and if a new facility would last that long it makes sense to spend the $650,000.

Still, the problems with the pools leave kids in that North County area, and the Calipatria summer recreational swim team, without a city pool for the summer.

The problems with the pools are obvious. The deck is cracked and concrete has chipped into at least one of the pools. There are cracks in the base of at least one of the pools and the filtration system has rusted.

A letter from the county, which closed the pool May 8, states the gas chlorination system "is not able to keep up with the chlorine demand as required during peak afternoon swimming hours."

Tom Wolf, manager of the Environmental Health Services division of county Public Health Services, said the condition of the pools was a violation of state law pertaining to the maintenance of public pools. He also said the condition presents a safety hazard.

"We don't take lightly closing a pool right before the summer," Wolf said, adding his division could not allow people to continue to utilize the pools. He said "it's not a pleasant" action to take, but it was necessary to close the pools.

Hanks agreed the facilities "are in real bad shape," having been built in 1963.

He said once a decision is made on whether to build a new facility or repair the existing pools, the work could be done before summer 2003.

Still, he said his concern is that kids will look to canals as a way to keep cool this summer and will need some other options.

He said he will be talking with Brawley officials, the closest city with a swimming pool, to discuss options. Hanks added the high school gym will be open during the summer to give kids activities in a safe and cool facility.

City Manager Romualdo Medina said he has not received official word from the high school about the closure but said he is concerned about the issue.

He said it is an issue the city is going to have to look into, and, like Hanks, he said one option might be to talk with the city of Brawley.

Karin Morgan, director of Brawley Parks and Recreation, said the Brawley pool could handle kids from Calipatria, adding Calipatria officials are welcome to contact Brawley.

She said the only concern is how to transport youths from Calipatria to Brawley.

Kathi Williams, analyst for the county Public Works Department, said the city of Calipatria can contact the county to discuss the transportation issue.

"We are interested in seeing what we can do," Williams said.

County Supervisor Gary Wyatt, who represents the North County, said he would look into the issue, adding he will see what can be done from the "county side."

He said he is unsure if kids and parents would utilize transportation because it would mean the kids would not be free to come and go — they would have to follow a set schedule.

Still, he said it is worth looking into to see what can be done and what resources are available.

Medina said he would contact the county to discuss possible options.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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