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Corpus Christi Caller-Times
In the heat of the summer, there is no better way to cool off than to dive into a swimming pool.
Some have the luxury of having access to a private pool, either their own or a friend's. Or maybe a club pool or a pool at the Y.
But for thousands of families without such access, a city pool is the ticket. The sounds of summer in the city is a pool full of neighborhood kids splashing and taking a good, cooling dip.
How is it then that of the city's seven pools, four of them were out of commission halfway into June? At one point, five of them were out of commission.
Even as two of them, Collier and T.C. Ayers, reopen, that will leave three of the seven — West Guth, Oso Pool and the Natatorium — still closed.
It's not the way the city Parks and Recreation Department planned it.
Becky Perrin, assistant director, said the department had figured that only one pool, West Guth, which is undergoing a complete makeover, would be out of commission over the summer pool season.
But unexpected delays in other construction, breakdowns of equipment due to rain and maybe just bad karma sent the majority of the city's pools into the opening days of summer on the sidelines.
And then there's this: Like much else in the municipal facilities — think streets — age has simply overtaken the pool system.
"We are dealing with older facilities issues on a continuing basis," she said.
Take Oso Pool, at 1109 Bernice, in the Cullen area. One of the recent rainstorms damaged the pool's pumps. At a more modern pool, the pump might have survived, but the design of the 1950s era pool made it susceptible to flooding.
The Natatorium, the city's only indoor pool, at 3202 Cabaniss Parkway, along Saratoga Boulevard, also is , but that is the doing of the Corpus Christi Independent School District.
It is the school district, Perrin said, that schedules repairs with both city and district sharing the cost.
The good news is at Collier and West Guth pools. Collier, 3801 Harris, just off Weber and Gollihar roads, has been undergoing a complete makeover.
This will be a new facility when the work is done, possibly by the coming week. The old facility was demolished and in its place are new public restrooms with showers, a kiddy pool and a new l-shaped pool with six lap lanes.
Collier is a year-round heated pool with lap swimmers racking up the meters over the course of the calendar. Collier, like West Guth, are part of the 2008 bond projects.
West Guth, at 9705 Up River Road, will have a zero depth pool feature. "You will be able to walk into the pool rather than use a ladder," Perrin said. Another added feature is a rock-climbing wall.
Bad weather and construction delays have held up the opening of Collier. If not for that, the pool might have made the Memorial Day opening. Those problems, the unforeseen repairs at Oso and the surprise closing of the Natatorium knocked out the best plans for having at least six of the seven pool open this summer.
One of those open pools would have been T. C. Ayers at 926 Coke, just off Interstate 37 near downtown. It was reopened for Memorial Day after an extensive makeover, but then had to close shortly afterward.
There was a problem with paint, Perrin said, but the pool was expected to reopen this past week.
That has left two pools, Greenwood at 4305 Greenwood Drive and H.E.B. at 1520 Shely, to carry the load for most of June.
With heat indices climbing into the dangerous zones, the pools are needed to help Corpus Christi cool off. Even with Ayers and Collier coming on line, that still leaves three major pools closed.
Pool attendance has dropped, of course. There has been a revenue loss for the parks department, but that's not the important thing.
For kids, families and residents who look to the city pools for a respite from the heat, the loss of the pools is a drop in the quality of life.
Nobody intended for the pools to be closed, but that doesn't make the loss any easier to bear for all those who depend on them.
Nick Jimenez has worked as a reporter, city editor and editorial page editor for more than 40 years in Corpus Christi. He is currently the editorial page editor emeritus for the Caller-Times. His commentary column appears on Sundays.
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