Grant Union High School on Tuesday celebrated the opening of its first swimming pool in eight years, giving the Del Paso Heights community a new option for student athletes to practice and children to cool off from the summer heat.
The $6.2 million stainless-steel pool, which opened last month, was dedicated in a public ceremony featuring Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, City Council members and school officials. The opening was six months late and cost $2 million more than expected, but community activists and school officials said it was worth it.
The facility, which includes new restrooms and locker rooms, replaces an 83-year-old pool house that was closed eight years ago by the Sacramento County Health Department.
“It’s such an opportunity because in past years we had to go to different schools to practice,” said Joseph Nguyen, a senior on the swim team. “Our team grew exponentially since we got the pool.”
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Many newcomers to the 40-member swim team are beginning swimmers, and several have learned to swim since the pool opened six weeks ago, said coach Angela Lopez.
In its heyday, the old Olympic-sized pool at Grant High hosted community events, physical education classes and public swimming. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Grant swim team dominated the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
Principal Darris Hinson and Councilman Allen Warren recalled swimming in the Grant pool as children.
“It cost us 10 cents to get in,” Warren said. “For 10 cents, we could have all the fun in the world.”
The project was delayed in part because of wet weather, according to Twin Rivers Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Bill McGuire. Along with unforeseen complications during demolition of the old pool, the delay increased costs, he said.
“It’s $2 million over price – if that’s what it takes to have our babies cooled down, we deserve it,” said Debra Cummings, a community activist. “It’s just the beginning. The pool isn’t going to fix everything going on in our community, but it’s a good start.”
Cummings, who handed out hundreds of buttons with the slogan “Save Our Community Pool” during a yearlong campaign to rebuild the facility, wants the pool open to the community for swim lessons and public swimming, among other events.
“Having this pool completed means a lot to our community kids,” she said. “We have gone on for many years without public pools for our community.”
District officials agree. The Grant pool will be open to the public either through a community partnership or by the school district itself, McGuire said.
“It’s a 37-meter pool,” McGuire said. “It’s a pool for high school students. It works for swim team. It can handle water polo. But it also has a shallow end and steps into the shallow end. It certainly can be used for new swimmers, for swim lessons.”
Cummings, who also spent the summers of her youth at the Grant pool, envisions lunch programs there and a synergy that involves summer sports programs at the high school fields.
The Twin Rivers Unified school board approved $4.2 million for the pool in 2014. They decided on a swimming pool made of stainless steel instead of the traditional gunite because repairs are easier, steel lasts longer and it costs less to own, McGuire said.
Bobo Construction was paid $5.3 million to build the pool, with the remaining $900,000 spent on demolition of the old pool, fees, an architect and construction managers, he said.
“This is a fantastic first for Grant High School and second for the community around Grant,” McGuire said. “Did it take longer? Yes. Did it cost more? Yes. In the end the pool’s open and that is all that matters.”