Hope remains for South Valley Middle School pool

The pool at South Valley Middle School is scheduled to be filled this summer.

City Council may have turned down the Gilroy Unified School District’s final proposal on a joint agreement that would keep the South Valley Middle School pool open for three years, but the subject isn’t closed, according to Board of Education trustee Dom Payne.

Referencing two community petitions and a Facebook event titled “Save the Pool at South Valley Middle School” – which encourages pool supporters to bring the matter back to the forefront during public comment at the June 4 City Council meeting – “I have reason to believe that we may be able to keep it open,” Payne wrote via email. “It seems to be picking up momentum with the public as around 60 people have said they are attending, including myself.”

Payne says there are two petitions circulating to re-open the SVMS pool, a popular recreational attraction built in 1995 that serves a low-income neighborhood on the east side of Gilroy.

One of the petitions to save the pool started by SVMS students. The other is a community petition boasting 200 signatures so far, according to SVMS parent Rebecca Armendariz, who his helping with the effort. Armendariz says volunteers will be out and about this weekend near the area of Chestnut and Forest streets, where they will attempt to gather more signatures.

“I think the school district and City Council needs to go back to the table, and City Council needs to offer to pay for all of it,” said Armendariz. “All of the area on the southern east side (of Gilroy) is neglected.”

Not only that, but forking out $60 per child for a summer pass to swim at the Gilroy or Christopher high school pools “isn’t cheap,” said Armendariz. “And if you have more than one child, it’s going to cost you a couple hundred dollars for a summer pass. There’s a lot of families who can’t afford that.”

Armendariz expects between 50 to 75 people to show up to Monday’s meeting. A handful of these students, parents and community members plan on addressing City Council members during public comment.

So far, 58 people have confirmed via Facebook that they plan to attend the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, located at 7351 Rosanna St. in Gilroy.

The pool dilemma came to a dead end in late April, when attempts to hammer out a joint agreement that would hold both parties financially responsible for the deteriorating pool at SVMS came to a screeching halt. Council put the kibosh on GUSD’s final offer, which asked the city to pay a heftier portion of the pool’s much-needed repairs, in addition to shouldering the pool’s operating costs for three years.

With water that turned so green last summer the deep-end became a cloudy lagoon, the SVMS pool needs $147,000 in one-time repairs, in addition to ongoing operating costs of $140,585. All in all, fixing the pool and keeping it open would take around $300,000.

Payne said he has been discussing the issue with City Council members, community organizations and local businesses to explore the possibility of a collaborative approach to keeping the pool open.

“We need help,” he concluded. “That’s the bottom line.”

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