Seek happy ending for pool saga

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

1. Squabbling has continued for more than six months

For months, the City Council and the Gilroy Unified School District have been squabbling over the swimming pool at South Valley Middle School. Where’s the common sense? Where’s the compromise? Where’s the action?

It’s lost in a leadership vacuum. But with a new mayor and Council taking their seats Friday, that will all – hopefully – change.

Let’s recap. Long ago and far away in 1957, the city and school district entered into a four-page, 50-year agreement, when statesman George C. Milias was mayor, to build and operate the pool. Atlas Pools was awarded the $58,000 contract. The agreement called for the school district to administer and operate the pool during the school year and the city to take over during the summer. Costs, including maintenance and repairs, were to be shared: 75% to the schools, 25% to the city.

2. Fingers are pointing while time and energy wastes

That seemed to work well for more than 50 years, until now. The pool needs repairs, the school district says it doesn’t have the money so they’ll have to fill it in and the city says it doesn’t want to pay, either.

In an editorial on May 8, we suggested this: “… perhaps the school district and the city can work on getting a grant from the Foundation for Youth Investment which is dedicated to outdoor programs for youth. Jessica Partch is the Director of Development and she can be reached at (650) 344-9072 or www.fyifoundation.org.”

Did anyone from the city or GUSD make the call, visit the website or coordinate an effort? Highly doubtful.

The point is that fingers are pointing here and there, but solutions aren’t being sought and that’s a failure in leadership.

There are high expectations for incoming Mayor Don Gage, perhaps unreasonably so. But at least with his vast political experience, we should expect him to take the lead in situations like this and seek solutions that are best for the community.

3. The swimming pool is an asset that should be saved

The truth is the school district and the city have money to fix this. There’s $20 million or so rolling into the school district from bond proceeds and there’s more cash than that in the city’s “rainy day” account.

Yes, there are plenty of competing needs for the city and schools. But creating outrageously expensive “phantom” repair bids as the city has done in order to bid the project out of reasonable consideration, is a waste of everyone’s time.

The swimming pool at South Valley pool is a valuable community recreational asset. Sit down and hammer out an agreement to keep it open and operate it. Find a service – All Season’s Pool or Krystal Water Pool – to handle regular maintenance. (That would probably be a good idea for the pools at Gilroy and Christopher high schools, too.) In short, figure it out.

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