Residents rally to save Pinney Pool

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

The most lively topic of last week’s regular Ridgecrest City Council meeting was not a scheduled discussion item, but the fate of Pinney Pool. More than a dozen residents filed through during public comment to urge the city to keep open the city’s only public pool, which has been targeted for closure.

At a recent Quality of Life Committee meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ponek presented to the public three different cost-reducing scenarios he was preparing for council consideration — each of which included the closure of Pinney Pool.

Parents, coaches and other advocates pointed to reasons including public safety in drown-proofing, helping to attract new residents and using the pool as a revenue generator for keeping Pinney Pool open to the public.

Grant Hanson said that Pinney Pool has a significant number of users, from those who use the facility for fitness and recreation to those who compete in CIF, club and All-American circuits.

He also pointed out that while the city is considering closing the pool, it is also considering building additional football and soccer fields.

“No one has ever died from not knowing how to play soccer,” he said.

Ray Hoffman pointed out that drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children, and considering the access to swim lessons and Red Cross training the pool provides, the city needs to find a way to keep it open.

Others suggested collaborating with China Lake (which has reportedly also closed one of its pools) to find a way to increase traffic in the city pool to justify keeping it open.

Ken Amster said he believes that even if the pool is not a revenue-neutral facility, it is a public asset.

“Think about this in terms of needs assessment, not in terms of turning a profit. The public has needs — including for police, roads and the pool,” said Amster. “Change your reference point. The role of city government is to provide for those needs.”

But he also commented on ideas floated through City Hall regarding a multimillion-dollar aquatics facility, saying “We don’t need a Cadillac, we need a Rambler.”

The News Review asked City Manager Dennis Speer whether the city was considering any scenarios that kept Pinney Pool open. He replied that he is out of town until April 16 and that the city would be evaluating reductions during the April 25 and 27 budget workshops.

Story First Published: 2013-04-10