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Progress paddles forward for Del Oro pool

Construction of $2M aquatic center may begin this summer
By: ANDREW WESTROPE Journal Staff Writer
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LOOMIS – After years of planning and fundraising, Del Oro High School may be only months away from cutting the ribbon on a new pool.
A volunteer group called Friends of the Del Oro Pool has been working with the school’s new aquatic center committee for the past four years to bring an updated facility to Del Oro, and fundraising coordinator Grace Kamphefner believes 2013 will be the year they finally break ground.
Hopeful for a “breakthrough” in fundraising next month, she brought a $2 million design proposal before the Placer Union High School District board of trustees last week.
“The goal is actually to start construction over the summer. The plans will go to the Division of the State Architect as soon as they’re done, and they should be approved by June,” said Kamphefner. “But (construction) will be completely contingent on whether we have the funds in the bank at that point or not.”
Donations funded the construction of the pool in 1969 to serve the school and surrounding community, but excessive use, changing standards and mounting repair bills have since persuaded parents and school officials that an update is in order.
Placer Union High School District Superintendent Dave Horsey said a handful of parents approached the board in 2009 about raising money for a new pool, to be called the Del Oro Aquatic Center, and the $1.3 million accrued for the project since May 2011 came entirely from public donations.
“Quite frankly, if we can’t get something done here in the near future, there’s no money to renovate (the pool) from a school district standpoint with the way our finances are, so what does that mean? Does it get closed? We definitely do not want to do that, so that’s not what I’m looking at, but it’s like, ‘We need to do something here,’” he said. “So the benefit is, if we get community support, the town of Loomis can use it, students can use it during the day, the athletes can use it after school, Loomis Dolphins can use it, and the community can have it during the summer. Everybody wins.”
Kamphefner said the facility’s conceptual design should be finalized by March at a slightly more modest price point than the original $4 million concept. The most recent design retains the deeper, 14-lane competitive pool but uses “portables” for bathrooms and changing rooms in place of a more permanent standing structure.
“They’re nicer than what we have now, and they would be on a slab, at grade, so it would be very functional and nice,” she said. “That building, because of prevailing wage, if we built it from scratch … was close to $2 million alone.”
Kamphefner said at the very least, the new pool will facilitate more and better training for a wider range of uses.
“Not only will it offer state-of-the-art and adequate facilities for both the high school teams and local teams, it will offer opportunities for events – water polo tournaments, swim events – that will bring people and revenues to the town of Loomis, and it’s going to offer the opportunity for broader usage for both ‘learn to swim’ and for masters programs and senior water aerobics. The opportunities for programming with a larger pool (are much greater),” she said. “There’s a real lack of adequate pool space in the area … so having the pool space available, we can just expand programming so it will be an amazing resource, not only for the high school but for the whole region.”
She estimated construction would take about six months, during which time the school’s teams would be able to use facilities at Sierra College and Granite Bay.
The friends group and aquatic center committee have not yet decided if they can afford a separate “therapy pool” for children and seniors, as originally planned, but once the $2 million “phase one” is complete, they will continue exploring funding options for more improvements.