Santa Paula Board Spares Pool for Now


Setting aside a proposal to fill in Santa Paula’s only public swimming pool, high school district trustees decided Tuesday to keep the pool open through the spring and to apply for grants that could support it permanently.

District Supt. Robert Fisher recommended last week filling the city’s only community swimming pool with sand after officials determined it was too expensive to keep open.

The school district must deal with the entire $30,000-a-year cost of the pool for the first time, because the city has withdrawn $7,000 to keep it open during the summer.


The pool is an expense the district can no longer afford since teachers took a 2% pay cut this year and seven employees were laid off to help balance the budget this school year, Fisher said.

But prompted by the Santa Paula High School swim team’s recent protests, trustees decided last week to give boosters more time to raise the needed cash.

Trustee Shirley Hendren told the board Tuesday evening that she and swim team supporters have raised $10,000. Hendren said she herself raised $3,000 from the Disney Corp. earlier this year, sold $500 worth of carnations for June’s graduation and donated $500 of her own money.

Then last weekend, swim team members sold about $1,000 worth of mistletoe.

“We just pulled it out of the trees and sold it,” said junior Corey Corona, one of 32 members of the high school team.

Families and businesses pledged the remaining $5,000, Hendren said. The $9,100 will enable the swim team to compete this spring, trustees agreed.

But the pool’s closure is certain unless a permanent source of funding can be found, Fisher said. Consequently, Hendren said she hopes to apply for a federal grant of more than $200,000.


“I want to put a dome over the pool,” Hendren said. “I’m shooting for the works.”

Hendren said the city’s cancellation of its $7,000 swim program last summer placed the entire financial burden on the school district. For 40 years, the city had kept the pool open most of the summer. City officials cited their own budget constraints for closing the pool.

But Hendren said Tuesday night she will ask the Santa Paula City Council to help secure the federal grant.

Hendren wants to apply for a Community Development Block Grant funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each year, Santa Paula receives about $250,000 of these funds. The City Council is scheduled to dole out the money after a March 6 public hearing.

Tuesday night, trustees unanimously backed Hendren’s plan, but they set a May 15 deadline to secure permanent funding. Otherwise, the pool will close.

The city receives 20 to 30 requests each year for a part of the $1 million for community service programs, City Manager Arnold Dowdy said. The city funded just five of those requests this year, said Steve Stuart, director of building and safety.

Stuart declined to predict the district’s chances of getting nearly all of Santa Paula’s 1995 block grant money. But the Santa Paula City Council indicated Monday that it intends to use at least $70,000 of next year’s grant allocation on housing rehabilitation.


“This is the school district’s funeral, this is their responsibility,” Councilman John Melton said.

Pool booster Victoria Corona--Corey’s mother--said she favors making a more realistic request of about $20,000 to the city. That would replace the pool’s outdated and inefficient heating system, which would significantly cut energy costs, she said.