Merced County Times Newspaper
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Summer is calling for Ada Givens Pool

The Merced City Council this week took up the issue of a community pool in Merced that has not been in use since 2011.

The recreational pool at Ada Givens Park has been out of service for a little over a decade, but that can very much change thanks to a new city plan. On Monday night, city leaders voted unanimously to move forward with rehabilitation project for the pool.

Last year, the council allocated $100,000 to the project as part of their 2021-22 budget planning.

“Our goal is to get it up and running for lessons this year,” City Engineer Michael Beltran told the council, while noting that supply chain issues and the need for bathroom rehabilitation could push the project back.

The planned renovations will replace pool equipment, filters, and update plumbing and electrical connections. New entrance steps, rails, and an ADA lift into the pool would be added to provide accessibility to people with disabilities. The surface would also need a new re-plastering, and updated bathroom facilities will add an extra $50,000 to the total cost.

In years past, the pool was used for swimming lessons, rentals, and after-school pool parties. However, after a decade of non-use, the pool and its surrounding area need a great deal of work.

“We are estimating this project to be about $270,000,” Beltran concluded, making the total cost almost triple what had originally been allocated for the project.

Councilmen Delray Shelton expressed concern over how the pool would sustain itself and whether certain costs could be covered by the nearby Aida Givens Elementary School.

“I definitely want to keep it at a cost where everyone has the ability to participate,” he shared.

Councilmen Fernando Echevarria expressed genuine support for the pool and emphasized an importance in getting the word out to the public.

“There’s a lot of parents that might want to have a pool party,” he said. “Let’s get the word out on this.”

Sheng Xiong, a local resident of Merced, expressed the importance in making sure any future pool activity remained accessible to low-income families.

“How are we making it accessible for low-income communities of color?” Xiong questioned the council from the podium for public speakers. “When things are fee-based, it makes it really inaccessible for people. This goes to show if swim lessons cost money, people without money would not be able to use it, and it’s a community pool. If the pool is coming from public dollars, then it should be more accessible to the public.”

Merced City Manager Stephanie Dietz reiterated that the city has maintained low-cost swim lessons that have never been increased by vote, and that the school district offers scholarships to those who may not be able to afford lessons otherwise.

Echevarria proposed a free community day at the pool with a movie. He even motivated Mayor Matthew Serratto to bring out the city’s “block party truck.”

“I think it’s important that we focus on trying to bring the pool to our disadvantage neighbors and youth,” he said. “Let’s have a swim party for free. Sell some popcorn, hotdogs. Let’s make it a community effort so we can have a nice event.”

Said Mayor Serratto: “It’s a public pool and the point of a public pool is broad access, and access obviously for people who do not have a pool. Especially here, it’s so important in the summer when it’s so hot. Families can come and cool off.”

The council ultimately decided to allocate the additional $170,000 to the pool project through the use of Measure Y funds (or tax from local commercial cannabis businesses.)

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