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PARC, Council consider Columbia Park renovations
Columbia Park
Columbia Pool is in dire need of renovations before it can reopen to the public (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Columbia Pool has served the community for over six decades, but with plenty of use comes plenty of wear. The Turlock City Council and the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission heard several revitalization options for the pool during a special joint meeting Tuesday evening, each of which aims to address the facility’s rapidly declining condition. 


After the City Council appropriated $40,000 in funding for a facility evaluation study in November 2019, Aquatic Design Group conducted an assessment of the pool and spray ground at Columbia Park. There were a total of 18 violations discovered during the assessment, all of which pose a liability to the health and safety of the public and many that would not allow the pool to open legally, even if it could during the coronavirus pandemic.


This led City staff to create a Columbia Park Master Plan, which was presented during the joint meeting and features three rehabilitation options for the pool that would take care of its existing problems. Since the swimming pool was built in 1957, it has undergone minor renovations and facility updates. The pool has only been replastered once in 1999.


The first rehabilitation option, which Greg Pires of Red Inc. Architects described as the “bare bones minimum to get the pool open again,” consists of repairs to both the existing pool and spray ground, with code and maintenance issues being the focus. This option would cost about $1.79 million.


Option number two would feature a smaller-sized swimming pool constructed from the existing pool’s shell, along with updated mechanical and chemical equipment as well as a new bathhouse. This option would cost $6.3 million.


The third option would see the pool removed from Columbia Park altogether, with the existing spray park and pool space replaced with a larger spray ground. This option would cost about $2.5 million. 


“...There are a lot of deficiencies that need to be addressed,” Recreation supervisor Karen Packwood said. “This Master Plan is going to be an important tool as we move through the process and look to the future of Columbia Pool and the aquatics program.”


According to Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder, the City of Turlock can apply for grant funding for the project through Proposition 68 and could receive up to $8.5 million from the state. On Tuesday, an Ad Hoc Committee comprised of PARC Chair Brent Bohlender, Commissioner Randy Icelow and Commissioner Allison Jeffery was formed to begin community outreach and decide which option would be best for Turlock residents. 


The City has until Dec. 14 to apply for grant funding, so a choice must be made before then.


Bohlender pointed out that in the three facilities studies conducted by the City that he’s witnessed during his 25 years on the Commission, the community has always rated pools at the top of their list. 


“There’s always reluctance to do pools because of the expenses, but with this Prop 68 money and the fact that we have this opportunity to do it, I would really want to see us get on board and put in the best thing we can,” he said. “The west side needs something, and in my opinion they need a pool — not a splash park.”


Moving forward, the City Council will receive a monthly update from the Columbia Park Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee.