Before a city was even built, there existed a Recreation & Park District in the Conejo Valley
north of Los Angeles. Today, three cities have learned to share the
park district, which is funded through property taxes. This sharing
strategy recently extended to the new community pool at Catholic
Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in a private-public
With $1.9 million from the park district; $1.4 million from the
city of Thousands Oaks, including a $99,000 federal grant secured
four years prior; and a 30-year land lease from the private
university, the park district built a community pool next to the
school’s new Olympic-size pool.
The agreement includes parking and lighting of the pool, as well
as community access to the university’s pool. In addition,
the university had recently constructed a new athletic complex,
field house and sports fields, and was happy to offset the costs of
its new pool with the community.
“The partnership we did with the city and the university
made it not a huge outlay for any one agency,” says Jim
Friedl, general manager of the Conejo Recreation & Park
District. “It made the ability to have the pool much more
realistic by having each agency kick in a little.”
Having the two pools allows for sharing and trading purposes,
such as using the community pool as a warm-up area for collegiate
swim meets. In return, the university might let the community use
its Olympic-size pool for a few days in the future.
“We built a really great community pool for learn-to-swim,
seniors, water aerobics, family swim night, and community-based
programming next to a gorgeous Olympic-size pool that’s only
11/2 years older,” Friedl says. “When you have eight
warm-up lanes next to the Olympic pool, you can qualify to host
some pretty high-end swim meets. So say the university wants to do
a big NCAA-II swim meet and wants to use the shallow pool, …
[we can] work out a sharing and swapping arrangement.”
The new pool has 75 steps on its floor to transition depth from
3 feet to 5 feet. The pool is divided into eight lanes, and its
edge is flush with the deck to avoid the limbs of small children
getting stuck in the gutter rail.
The entry fee is $2 for recreational swim, including outside
residents. Friedl says even local summer camps have been arriving
by the busload and putting the pool at capacity every day.
Other revenue sources include swim lessons, lifeguard lessons
and other recreational programming, as well as rentals for swim
clubs and water polo teams. Friedl says a combination of the
profits and property tax already collected will be used to pay
staff, utilities and operational costs. Any extra needs, such as
new lane lines or starting blocks, can be purchased through
fund-raising efforts by local swim clubs, whose support for the
project has been very strong.
What happens after the 30-year lease with the university is up?
“The university gets to keep the pool, and [it] can decide to
take on the responsibility of managing. Or, if our relationship is
still mutually beneficial, we would work with them before that to
extend the [lease],” Friedl says. “Thirty years is the
typical life of a pool before you need a major retrofitting on
it.” But until then, he’s content with the arrangement.
“It’s been really well-received by the
community,” Friedl says. “We built a pretty complete
facility right from the get-go.”