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The Press Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
No one has dipped a toe in yet - in fact, there's not even a hole in the ground - but anticipation is growing for the swimming pool that will be built at San Jacinto High School.
The $6.65 million project took the next step forward at a groundbreaking event Wednesday when the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians handed over a ceremonial $1 million check for what will be called the Soboba Aquatics Center.
The money is part of the fees the tribe must payto cover issues brought about by the new casino under construction on its reservation not far from the campus.
Construction on the pool was slated to begin Friday. It's expected to be completed by fall 2019.
Longtime San Jacinto Unified School District trustee Debbi Rex has advocated for a pool for more than two decades.
"This is a historic day for us," Rex said.
She cited late school trustee Megan Cope, who threatened to chain herself to a tree at Monte Vista Middle School that was going to be torn out. Rex wanted to show the same kind of commitment to the pool project.
"I remember that passion and thinking I don't have a pool to chain myself to," Rex said. "It seems that it took 20 years chained to a nonexistent pool to get here."
Administrators said the pool will be more than just a place to cool off on a warm day.
"Today is about equity and our kids getting what they deserve," San Jacinto Unified School District Superintendent Diane Perez said.
Having a pool will allow San Jacinto High to offer aquatics programs such as swimming and water polo for the first time.
San Jacinto is the only comprehensive high school in the San Jacinto Valley without a swimming pool and the only school in the Mountain Pass League without aquatics.
"I'm just excited we get to see swimming here," Rex said. "Our students have another chance to participate."
The center with a 25-yards-by-38-meters pool will be on the northern side of campus, near the old gym. It will include locker rooms, athletic training room, offices, bleachers and a concession stand.
The pool will be prefabricated and sunk into the ground, school board President John Norman said.
There are plans to allow community use when school is out. San Jacinto hasn't had a public pool since the Sallee Park pool closed in 2014 as part of citywide budget cuts.
Soboba is building a new casino and hotel complex on 37.5 acres of land on Soboba Road, west of Lake Park Drive, on reservation land north of San Jacinto. The land is within the school district's boundaries.
The tribe is making a one-time donation of $1 million in lieu of development fees and property taxes.
The rest of the center's costs will be paid for through a 20-year loan. None of the money will come from the district's general fund, administrators said.
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