By LANCE ARMSTRONG
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a series regarding the old Carmichael Park pool, which was recently demolished.
Carmichael Park’s public swimming pool, which provided recreation and relief from the summer heat for thousands upon thousands of people for nearly a half-century, is now nothing more than a memory.
As of last week, the only dominant sign that the pool was ever present at the site was a large hole in the ground.
The demolition of the pool and its accompanying building was far from a surprising event, when considering that the pool had not been used for nearly nine years.
In explaining the closure of the pool, Carmichael Recreation and Park District Administrator Jack Harrison said, “The pool was no longer meeting codes – state codes, county codes. It didn’t meet requirements for disabilities. The liner had been replaced and (the pool) was leaking again. So, structurally, it was failing and couldn’t be maintained. The cost to maintain it (was high). It had limped along. They had done repairs and tried to keep it open for a few years, actually. It just got to the point where it couldn’t be repaired any longer.”
Tracy Kerth, the district’s recreation services manager and the supervisor of the pool for its last 17 years, recalled the final closure of the pool.
“It was sad when we had to close it,” Kerth said. “It closed for the regular season (in 2004) and then we went to the board that fall and announced that we wouldn’t be opened the next year. There was just no way (to continue operating the pool). We did some research on it. The infrastructure was shot. A lot of people said, ‘Are you sure you can’t remodel?’ Everything was wrong with it. We didn’t meet any of the requirements for ADA. It would have been cheaper to build an entire new building. The vessel itself was failing. The pipes were leaking. There was just no way that we could resurrect it.”
Kerth added that even after the closure of the pool, a final study was performed to determine if the pool could be saved.
“The (study) came back that (upgrading the pool and its building to current standards) wasn’t feasible,” Kerth said.
In further pondering the decline of the pool, Kerth recalled that a renovation of the pool was completed in the 1980s. And she noted that the project was a failure in one particular aspect.
“They didn’t do (upgrades to) the infrastructure, and that was a mistake,” Kerth said.
In 2007, Aquatic Design Group of Carlsbad, Calif. performed an analysis of the pool site and then provided their recommendations for an aquatic center that would replace the then-52-year-old pool and its building, which included dressing rooms, a staff room, a first aid room, a pump room, an equipment room and the old snack bar. The original snack bar was later used as a day camp room when a new snack bar opened in a different area in order to save on costs.
The firm’s report was paid for by the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael.
Harrison said that after the report was completed, the district surveyed the community regarding its support of several park projects, including the construction of an aquatics center.
“(The tax assessment) was going to be $48 a year for single family homes and a lesser amount for apartments and commercial and that kind of stuff,” Harrison said. “The results came back that 62 percent of the people said, ‘Yeah, we value our parks.’ The pool – the aquatics center idea – (received) 44 percent. So, it was clear that the community supported the parks’ redevelopment maintenance more than building an aquatics center. So, that kind of killed the idea of going forward with an idea of some kind of a ballot.”
In response to the inquiry of whether any efforts are presently being made toward having an aquatics center constructed at the park, Harrison said, “Currently the (Carmichael Recreation and Park District) Foundation is talking to people about major donations, with the idea being that ‘Is it possible to raise $5 million of private money?’ So, we’ll see. The results of that are expected to be in by the end of April.”
Certainly many people in the community would welcome a new aquatics center, and with a review of the old pool’s history, one can visualize such a center’s potential for both the community and the district.
The pool was one of the earlier features of the park, which was established in 1949.
In July 1953, the Business and Professional Women’s Club acquired sufficient signatures from Carmichael area citizens to indicate the community’s strong desire for a public swimming pool.
It was also during the same month that the Carmichael Park’s board of directors voiced their approval for such a project at Carmichael Park.
A fundraising program was then initiated for the pool, which would be built at a cost of $38,000.
The pool was eventually paid for through funding from door-to-door solicitations ($12,500), an embossed bronze memorial plaque ($10,500), the park board’s budget ($10,000) and special events ($5,000).
Individual donors for the plaque, which would be mounted on an ornate fieldstone near the pool, paid a minimum of $500 each.
The committee in charge of the swimming pool fundraising project consisted of Elmer C. Juergenson (general chairman), Laural C. Ruff (vice chairman), Helen Moody (secretary), Frank J. Hahn (treasurer), Connie Ryan, Walter Lage, Ida Ball, Wim C. Schoof, Gene Lynch and Edna Clark.
Commencement on the construction of the 50-foot by 100-foot blue granite pool, which represented $30,000 of the project, began during the summer of 1954.
The park’s swimming pool, which was once accompanied by a wading pool, was opened in time for the following year’s swim season.