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Community Convinces Council to Keep South Valley Pool Open

A 4-3 vote during Monday's Gilroy City Council meeting approved city funding for the next three years to repair and operate the east side pool.

Before a group of , the voted 4-3 Monday to pay for repairs and operating costs needed to keep the east side pool open.

The vote was met with applause as the reality sunk in that the pool, used widely by east side residents, won't be closed for good.

"This is an economic decision for the old side of Gilroy as well as the city of Gilroy," said councilman Peter Arellano. Arellano was joined in the majority by Mayor Pro Tempore Cat Tucker and councilmen Perry Woodward and Peter Leroe-Munoz. "Closing the pool will affect the value of the neighborhood and that whole area negatively. Keeping it open will affect it positively."

With the vote, the council pledged $199,373 this year in one-time repairs and standard operating costs. Over the next three years, the city will pay over $487,000 to keep the pool running.

According to the staff report, the , which own the pool and uses it the majority of the year, pledged $82,000 towards repairs and maintenance costs. That money was set aside to cover the costs of demolishing the structure.

"I hear comments made that the school district has this large facilities capital improvements budget, but that's a joke," said Elena Villareal, an east side resident who spoke in favor of the city picking up the costs the district can't cover. "The only facilities budget they have is the one paid for and dictated by the voters of Gilroy. We have been footing the bill for years and we're not asking the city to do anything we're not doing ourselves."

"The city can afford it and those kids on the east side of Gilroy deserve to have a pool," she continued.

Supporter Rochelle Arellano said in tough economic times, which are acutely felt in Gilroy, an "affordable option" like the pool is just what the community needs to heal.

"The long-term benefit to our community outweighs the short-term monetary costs," she said. "This is going to help families sustain their physical, mental health and social needs."

Not everyone was in favor of the city paying for the pool. Gilroy resident Tom Fischer said he was dubious of the district asking the city to pay for a facility it only gets limited use of.

"Why should the city assume responsibility for a pool they only use eight weeks out of the year?" he posed. "This would not be a once-only expenditure. Once the city assumes financial responsibility for this pool, the GUSD will never want it back."

Councilmen Bob Dillon and Dion Bracco agreed.

"What we are being asked to do here tonight is to pour money into a deep hole that we don't know where the bottom is," Bracco said. "This pool is over 60 years old. It's going to have problems year after year after year. We're already at [several hundred thousand dollars]. I see this getting to half a million easily."

Though he knew he'd be outvoted, Dillon cautioned the council to make sure it knew exactly how much it is expected to spend on the pool.

"You better nail down the costs," he said. "Make sure the district understands you are only funding it for three years."

A found that of 13 voters, 46 percent felt the city should not pay for repair and operation costs to keep the pool open. Thirty percent felt the city should pay for all costs while 23 percent said the city should pay a portion of the costs.

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Michelle Fitzsimmons July 17, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Are you dubious that the school district won't "dump" the pool onto the city after the three year time period is up?

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