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New pool in works for Calipatria

June 11, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — The school board here took the first steps Monday toward the building of a new swimming pool facility, one closer to Main Street to make it more accessible to the public.

While a new pool could be in place before summer 2003, youths here will find themselves without a public pool this summer and school officials are trying to find a quick solution to that dilemma.

Calipatria Unified School District Superintendent James Hanks said Monday he is looking at redirecting funds that would have gone toward the pool as part of the summer school program to pay costs associated with busing kids to Brawley.

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That idea and talks about building a new pool facility resulted form county Environmental Health Services closing the 40-year-old pool facilities on the high school campus.

Health officials said the two pools in the facility are safety hazards and violate state laws on pool maintenance. The decks are cracked and are chipping off into the pools, the filtration system is rusted and the chlorination system is outdated.

The pools, while operated and maintained by the school district, have served as city public swimming facilities during the summer and have been used by the Calipatria recreational swimming team.

On Monday the school board voted to create a committee that would work on the pool issue with architect Jimmy Sanders of Sanders Inc. Architecture and Engineering in Brawley.

Douglas Kline, principal of Grace Smith Elementary School in Niland, will head that committee.

Sanders, who has estimated it could cost more than $600,000 to build a new pool facility, told the board he could have a set of design options during the board's next meeting in July.

Sanders asked the board if it wants him to look at placing the pool in its current location near the high school football field or relocating the pool. Board members said they are interested in seeing the pool facilities closer to Main Street, near the front of the high school.

The school district is gearing up to rebuild the high school and the plan for that project calls for adding a new parking lot for the school along Main. Board members said the pool could be built near the new parking lot to allow the public more access.

Sanders told the board relocating the pool likely would not increase costs, and added it could be less expensive to build at a new location rather than attempting to rebuild the current facility. He added a new pool could be built in a three-month period once a construction contract is awarded.

The district has money available through a $25 million bond issue approved by district voters in the mid-1990s. That bond was to cover costs associated with the building of the new Bill E. Young Middle School, rebuilding the high school and other projects throughout the district, including renovation work at Grace Smith.

Hanks said while that money is available, the district will be working with the city of Calipatria — namely City Manager Romualdo Medina — to try to secure grant funding for the pool project.

The district already was approved to receive $3.5 million in state grant money to replace modular buildings at the high school, Fremont Primary School and Grace Smith. That grant will be part of a state bond package to be voted on in November.

The district also was approved to receive a $100,000 grant through a federal renovation program to cover costs of projects related to health and safety issues.

In addition, the district has requested $1.2 million from the state to cover the cost of building a gym and library at Grace Smith.

District officials are hoping to receive approval for that funding later this month. The funding could be available as early as next month or July 2003.

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

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