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RESEDA : A Year Later, Schools’ Pool Is Dedicated

Plans for an aquatic demonstration to help dedicate a new public swimming pool to be used by Cleveland and Joaquin Miller high schools had to be dropped Thursday.

The water was too cold, about 54 degrees, compared with the 81-degree temperature needed. The heater was not turned on until Thursday and it takes four or five days for the water in the nine-lane indoor pool to heat up.

But that was a minor problem compared to the last time city and school officials tried to open the $2.4-million pool a year ago, when the Northridge earthquake struck.

The earthquake, centered near Roscoe and Reseda Boulevards, about half a mile away from the adjoining schools, severely damaged the pool, cracking it and destroying its piping.

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“It was such a disappointment,” said Jim Cromwell, one of Cleveland’s two swimming coaches.

The pool--the only city-owned indoor swimming pool in the San Fernando Valley--was finished and awaiting a dedication ceremony when the 6.7-magnitude temblor struck.

But there was still plenty of cheering at Thursday’s ceremony, especially from a squad of cheerleaders from Joaquin Miller High School, a school for developmentally and physically disabled youths. The two schools will share the pool, which also will be open to the public.

A smaller, handicapped-accessible pool equipped with an hydraulic chairlift will be used the Joaquin Miller High for aquatic rehabilitation.

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“It’s great therapy for the kids with cerebral palsy,” said Laura Keller, who is with the adaptive physical education program at Joaquin Miller.

The special pool, equipped with handrails, will help build coordination and motor skills because of the buoyancy created by the water, Keller said.

“It gives them an opportunity for recreation they haven’t had before,” said Sharon Snakenberg, a Joaquin Miller teacher who works with students with multiple handicaps. “They’ve been really excited about it. They were very disappointed when they heard it was damaged in the earthquake.”

Cromwell said he hopes to start practice next week, just in time for the beginning of the swim season, which begins Feb. 14.

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“This dream started in 1979,” said Joaquin Miller Principal Jay Allerman during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

According to Emory Josephs, an assistant principal at Cleveland High, it may have dated back even further. He said he recalled talk of having a joint swimming pool as early as 1965.

“We thought we’d never get it,” Josephs said.

Also at the event was Los Angeles City Councilwoman Laura Chick, who Josephs said “really came through for us. It was her influence that really got them off the dime.”

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The city is being reimbursed for the reconstruction by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department spokesman Al Goldfarb.

John Vowels, aquatics director for the department, said he expects the pool will open to the public in about a week.


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