Serving the community since 1922

Pool now set to open by end of year

The Shafter Aquatic Center looks like it will re-open by the end of the year after a series of delays.

The project was supposed to be completed by July 2024, giving the residents a summer of swimming. But the project needed more time for planning and design, according to city Public Works Director Michael James.

The project is being funded through a $6-million grant to the city to resurface the pool, repair the heater and tile work. There also will be improvements to the building, which includes an addition of a concession stand, lockers, an office, showers and a shaded structure.

The center has been closed for several years, beginning with the termination of the agreement between the city and the Shafter Recreation and Parks District, leaving it unclear who would be in charge of maintaining the pool and the structure. With the uncertainty, then covid, the center closed indefinitely.

The grant called for completion of the project by this summer, but the city recently received an extension on the plan, giving them until the end of 2024 for completion.

This would coincide with the start of the Shafter High School competitive swimming season. Coach Larissa Davis said that she is excited about the prospect of having a home pool to swim in this next season. "The challenges have really dealt a blow to our numbers and have put a big load on the swimmers we do have. They have to deal with going to school, homework, as well as daily trips to and from Bakersfield for swim practice."

Davis said that it would be a big boost to the program to have the pool open and available. It would also help the high school program in the form of their feeder program. The Shafter Stingrays youth team had enjoyed some outstanding seasons before the pool closed, leaving local swimmers with no local club to swim for. Some of the Shafter families signed their kids up for the program in Wasco, Bakersfield and Rio Bravo. Having a healthy Shafter Stingray program would benefit the high school team immensely, said Davis.

Lastly, the entire community would benefit from the opening of the pool. For decades, Shafter residents had enjoyed the open swimming at the community pool and renting the pool for special events such as birthday parties, as well as learning how to swim at swim lessons.

"I remember going to the pool when I was a kid. Then, my kids and grandkids loved to go to the pool. It is a shame it has taken them so long to get it up and going again," said Shafter resident Alberto Reina.

 

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