Chico public pool closure could have a big impact


CHICO, Calif. - Repairs and upgrades needed at Chico's oldest non-creek public pool could force its closure, sending ripples through the community.

Shapiro Pool on the Chico Junior High School campus was built in 1956 and locks currently placed on its gates could become permanent.

The nearly 60-year-old pool has at least two significant mechanical problems that need repair.

On top of that, Americans with Disabilities Act and other facility upgrades would be necessary to keep the pool up to code.

The Chico Area Parks and Recreation Department, or CARD, leases the pool from the Chico Unified School District.

"It will impact this community and we need to start some outreach and talking to these partners about how it affects what they do," said Jake Preston, Chico Area Parks and Recreation Department Supervisor of Parks and Facilities.

But Preston said even if repairs are made it wouldn't mean the pool could be sustained.

"It is old. There are weaknesses in it, we don't know what those are. If we do any kind of fix, there is the potential that it will cause other breaks," Preston said.

So the parks department could shut it down.

They'll discuss options at their monthly meeting Thursday night.

If they decide to close it immediately all activities would move to Pleasant Valley Pool at Bidwell Junior High School, all of the way across town.

But for many in the area Shapiro Pool is the most convenient option. For instance, the Chico High School swim team uses it.

Emma Riley is a freshman on the team and she said during their season the pool is right around the corner and the easiest option.

"We just walked," Riley said. "It's super easy because then parents don't have to drive all the way out to the pool by PV. I don't think I would do swim team if the pool wasn't right here."

And for Riley and many of her fellow swimmers, the water is her only athletic outlet.

"A lot of the swimmers that I know are like, 'Oh, I only swim. I don't run, I don't do anything else, I just swim.'"

She said for that reason alone the closure could potentially have a big impact.

Not to mention the facility is used for swimming lessons and rented out for parties, among other things.

Preston says CARD fully understands the stresses closing the pool would create.

"CARD hangs its hat on learning to swim," he said. "Not providing that to this community in the capacity that we do would be really heartbreaking."

Shapiro Pool's fate will be discussed at CARD's monthly meeting Thursday night at their headquarters on Valambrossa Avenue beginning at 7 p.m.