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Council approves construction bid for $9M Columbia Pool
Columbia Pool
Construction on a new and improved Columbia Pool is expected to be completed by May 1, 2024 (Journal file photo).

Kids on the city’s west side likely will be frolicking in the new Columbia Park swimming pool next spring, after the Turlock City Council voted Tuesday to spend a combination of federal COVID money and local cannabis revenue to complete the project.

By a unanimous 5-0 vote, the council agreed to award the construction bid to Bobo Construction Inc. of Elk Grove, California for the construction of the Columbia Pool Improvements. The Council also approved allocating more than $1.3 million in cannabis money, capital improvement account funds, and American Rescue Plan Act funds. Those funds are in addition to the $6.9 million that had already been allocated for the project, which includes demolition of the old facility, installation of the new pool, a concession stand, a pump and chemical building, storage facility, and restrooms. Total project costs are estimated at $9.76 million.

Councilmember Rebecka Monez, who represents District 2 where the Columbia Park is located, indicated in June that the project was likely to come in under budget.

That’s no longer the case.

“We have ignored this pool for 38 years,” said vice mayor Pam Franco, who represents District 4. “Part of that was because they didn’t have the money. Now we have the money. Do I like the price? Absolutely not. I think the price is exorbitant. … Could we do it cheaper through private means? Absolutely, 100 percent. But we don’t have that option. This is the City of Turlock’s land, City of Turlock’s pool, the City of Turlock has to do this. We can’t give it away to somebody else and have them do. It has to be done through the city.”

Discussion of the project grew contentious after Turlock residents Ron Bridegroom and  Mary Jackson asserted during public comments that opportunities to complete the project for less money had been missed.

“This breaks my heart, it really does,” said Bridegroom. “Because the money that could’ve been saved, the money that could’ve been raised, possibly millions of dollars of cannabis money therefore could’ve been used to increase the quality of life on the west side.”

Jackson, the Area 4 representative on the Turlock United School Board, said the council has sent a negative message to residents of District 2.

“What message have you been sending to the west side community? We don’t care about you?” Jackson asked. “That’s on you. That’s not on anybody else. That’s on you.”

Monez, clearly agitated, took exception to the remarks.

“Columbia Pool is getting done because of this member right here, with the help of the vice mayor,” said Monez, pointing to herself. “I just have to rebuke the comments that were made in here tonight. And the politicking going on in this room is disgusting. If you live in District 2 and know any of the kids in District 2, you know how important and how critical this pool is to District 2. That’s all I’m going to say.”

The Columbia Pool is expected to be completed by May 1, 2024.

— Also on Tuesday, the council voted 5-0 to rescind an agreement to build new transitional housing for homeless families, veterans and senior citizens.

In April, the Council approved partnering with Custom Containers 915 to develop the transitional housing project that would have seen 45 studio apartments and five one-bedroom apartments built on 2.5 acres of city-owned land at 701 S. Walnut Rd.

The city had planned to apply for state housing funds under HomeKey to finance the development and pursue tenant-based Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) vouchers in order to fund the operating cost of the project.