In a community where child obesity, asthma and diabetes are on the rise, it’s no wonder citizens shunned the aging swimming pool and demanded a new one.
“It’s essentially lived its useful life and it’s a big money hole now,” says Mike Camarena, director of city services in Lindsay, Calif. “So the money we set aside for maintenance was put into a new pool.”
As part of an economic plan for redeveloping this agriculture-based city in California’s Central Coast, local leaders tried to attract diverse industries that weren’t farm-related.
After little success, a city councilman happened to visit the giant sports complex of Chelsea Piers in New York, where he saw the pivotal role recreational opportunities can play in a city by giving parents an opportunity to sponsor their children. He brought the idea back to Lindsay and, using an abandoned parking area with a storage facility, the city began to redefine and rebuild its recreational program. As a result, the McDermont Field House was born.
Besides the artificial turf, arcade, laser tag area, gyms, golf course, fitness center, rock-climbing wall, and separate surf ride, a $2.5 million pool was added to the mix this summer.
The pool was entirely funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in support of projects developing wellness and health in the community.
It includes an eight-lane lap swimming area, a recreational portion for water aerobics, and a 90-degree heated therapy pool. Plans are under way to build a 700,000-square-foot wellness center to be completed in the next 12 months, and Camarena says the therapy pool will complement the new facility.
“That would be another source of revenue to support maintenance requirements of the new pool,” he says.
Another source of revenue comes from membership fees to the McDermont Field House. Monthly memberships include access to the new pool, which also pays for some its expenses. The pool alone is $2 for general public swimming and more for structured programs.
Corporate sponsorships are available, in which the sponsor receives advertising on the facility’s TVs and projection screens. Currently, the pool is planned to be a year-round facility, but Camarena says his staff is working through the schedule to see if the popularity lasts through winter.
The pool also hosts evening open swims, movie nights, luau parties, and other events as methods of revenue and programming. In addition, the new facility is drawing interest from swim clubs outside the city. “People see Lindsay turned the tide and it’s luring people from within the region,” Camarena says.
The health benefits were the pool’s major selling point, and it didn’t take much to convince the public that it needed a new pool. “The community was behind it 100 percent. We’re keeping our population active. Instead of kids hanging out and getting in trouble,” he says, they are going to the pool and to the Field House. Adds Camarena, “That’s creating a base for us and the pool is an integral part of it.”