June 26, 2008

Colusa Looking to Replace City Pool

By Howard Yune, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

Jun. 26--It has been the main summertime diversion for Colusa's children for nearly 90 years. But the city swimming pool at 10th and Webster streets is aging and cracking -- and officials are now planning for its possible replacement.

The city unveiled plans for a new aquatic center at the site of its pool in hopes of renewing the longtime gathering place -- even in the face of rising costs.

"This is going to appeal to so many people who say they want to swim but can't get into the pool," said Bonnie Peterson, one of the park commissioners. "This will be a help to so many people."

Families, swim teams and as many as 200 children at a time have filled the Colusa pool since it opened in 1920. But the center now suffers from rusty water pipes, a weakened roof over the shower rooms, and poor access for the disabled.

Meeting Tuesday with the Parks and Recreation Commission, Chico pool architect Larry Coffman showed conceptual drawings for a 10,743-square-foot water park with three sections meant to satisfy various groups whose needs often conflict at the current site, where youths, seniors and exercise groups split pool time.

A 25-yard-long racing pool would connect to a smaller warmup area, which also could host aerobics and exercise courses for adult swimmers. But the key to the new pool's popularity could be the third section -- a child-friendly space with a gentle slope from deck to water, plus a center island equipped with sprinklers, hinged water buckets and other play equipment designers hope will attract young swimmers.

A new clubhouse and patio would replace the current building and host pool parties and other events, an important source of money for a department that spends $34,000 a year on pool upkeep.

Architects and city officials have not estimated the price, but the project faces soaring costs for steel and truck fuel. Raising the admissions fee -- currently only $1 for adults and 50 cents for children -- to help defray costs -- is also tricky because the nearby Sacramento River presents a tempting, if dangerous, option for the poor, according to Hickel.

"There's a lot of low-income people here, and if they say they can't afford to go to the pool, some of them would go to the river instead -- and then you get drownings," she said.

Colusa's Public Works Department will take public comments on the pool project ahead of a July 29 meeting, where residents can discuss the city's master plan for its parks and trails.

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Howard Yune at 458-2121 or [email protected]


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