Over the Hill

How Paso Robles united to reopen Centennial Pool

The Great Recession (December 2007 through June 2009) had severe, long-lasting repercussions.

Incomes shrank painfully, poverty spread widely and the Centennial Park Swimming Pool in Paso Robles closed indefinitely.

But just last month, thanks to the efforts of many people, that pool reopened after a five-year closure.

I live an easy walk from the pool. But the truth is, I didn’t do much to get it reopened except pay my taxes. I’m still proud though, that my hometown organized itself and reopened our Centennial Pool. Paso Robles has two city swimming pools. But for five years, it was a one-pool town.

I really don’t blame the Paso Robles city government for that. After all, our whole nation almost went broke during the Great Recession. Unemployment soared. Incomes sank.

And even if you weren’t personally broke, you soon felt broke as you drove over our increasingly, bumpy streets. But now the Great Recession is fading into the past. Paso Robles is fixing some streets. However, many more still need work.

And Paso Robles city officials are still feeling the heat in more ways than one.

You’ve probably heard that Paso Robles sometimes gets scorched by very hot summer temperatures. Maybe you’ve experienced them while attending the Mid-State Fair.

Or you may have heard that on this June 27, the temperature in Paso Robles reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

That wasn’t even a record. The record for June 27 was set in 1956 at 110 degrees. So you can see that having just one operating, public swimming pool for a city of 30,000 can seem inadequate.

But the city couldn’t just unlock the doors to the pool and reopen it for business. First, that big pool had to be made suitable again for human use. I imagine its corrosion was thick, and five years of “deferred maintenance” is probably putting it mildly. Also, its accessibility for disabled people needed improving, which required real construction work.

The City Council appropriated more than $250,000 for that work, according to the Centennial Pool Fundraising Committee, but there were still other reopening costs.

So on April 30, the committee put on the first Mayor’s Annual Fundraising Dinner. Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin and City Councilman Steve Gregory worked with the committee.

Tickets to the dinner were $75 per person. It also featured a silent auction. A city news release later said the dinner had raised $75,000.

The pool opened June 13. For information about pool hours and charges visit www.prcity.com/recreation or call 805-237-3988.

And if you have a worthy cause in Paso Robles, I recommend that you form a committee. Paso Robles appears to be fertile soil for creditable committees.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.