Council to consider a year-round pool

CITY HALL — Officials with the Park, Recreation and Community Services Department presented three options to the Burbank City Council on Tuesday for a possible year-round aquatic center, filling area swimmers with hope that a Burbank pool might be open all year.

The park and recreation department operates two Olympic-size outdoor swimming pools in Burbank, one at McCambridge Park, the other at Verdugo Park.

The pools at McCambridge and Verdugo are open for summer swimming from June to Labor Day in September.

In 2003, Burbank discontinued a program it ran in partnership with the Burbank Unified School District that offered its pools to swimmers in the winter, effectively shutting out Burbank swimmers in the winter, forcing residents to use parks in other cities, such as Sherman Oaks and Pasadena.

In an effort to meet the needs of a growing number of swimmers who want to swim all year, three options were presented to the council for expanding the aquatic programs in Burbank.

The first option would keep McCambridge Park’s aquatic center open year-round, 9 months more than its current schedule.

The estimated cost for continuing operations at McCambridge Pool might be significant, said Garth Nelson, deputy director of community services.

“There are significant additional costs relative to the maintenance of pools, such as power costs, electrical costs, chemical costs, and staffing costs,” he said.

Nelson placed the cost of keeping McCambridge open all year at just less than $200,000.

The second choice would keep the McCambridge Pool open for a total of eight months, providing five additional months of swimming at a cost of about $107,000.

The third alternative involves allowing swimming at McCambridge from June to December and would allow aquatic activities programs while the center is closed at either John Burroughs or Burbank high schools from January to May.

The estimated cost for the additional months of operation for choice three would also cost the city about $107,000.

Support for the first option, keeping McCambridge open all year, gained traction among residents who showed up to the meeting to support year-round swimming.

“Burbank is not seen as a dependable place to swim,” Bob Schmitt said. “But we could have swim meets and year-round programs. We need to maximize the use of our pools for all citizens.”

Marianna Walton, who has been swimming in Burbank for more than 20 years, said the solar-powered McCambridge pool will help ease costs of keeping the pools open all year.

“It pays for itself,” she said. “Everyone wonders why Burbank can’t have what other cities have. People will love to swim here year round.”

But Nelson negated Walton’s rationale, saying the cost saved by a solar-powered pool will not mitigate the cost of operating it.

“It would cover simply the cost of gas,” he said. “It would not be possible to save $107,000 by solar-heating these pools.”

Officials are expecting to revisit the issue in February, when the public will have a chance to weigh in, Nelson said.

“As the process moves forward, everyone will have the opportunity to discuss year-round aquatic programs that would best serve the community’s needs,” he said.

But council members Tuesday did not support keeping a pool open all year, citing the relatively few winter swimmers and the substantial cost to support the centers.

“I would love to see year-round swimming,” Councilman Dave Golonski said.

“But we haven’t unfrozen police officers we had to freeze at the beginning of the budget year. Everything is a trade-off here. We have to look at these decisions in the context of the overall budget. When you choose to do something like this, you are choosing not to do something else.”


 JEREMY OBERSTEIN covers City Hall and public safety. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at jeremy.oberstein@ latimes.com.

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