Organizers report back on Pinney Pool fundraiser

By BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

Residents were greeted by live music, free food, local vendors and community spirit at a fundraiser to reopen Pinney Pool on Saturday at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. Ridgecrest Shoutouts! and the Ridgecrest Lions Club hosted the event.

An estimated 900-1,000 people filtered in throughout the day according to Stephen Birdwell of Shoutouts!. “It was a very successful event, and everyone that attended had a great time.”

In addition to live entertainment and games, local vets held a ceremony to honor family members of the late Sgt. John Pinney for whom the pool was named. Pinney was killed in 1969 during the Vietnam War.

Always an advocate for local youth, Pinney wanted the community to raise funds for a new pump at the old community Brewer’s Pool. In the wake of his death, the community rallied and raised enough money for Pinney Pool, which operated until 2016 when it was closed because of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues.

Event coordinators couldn’t comment on the amount of money raised until an accounting by the Lions Club.

“But the event was successful in what we aimed to do to begin with,” said Birdwell.

“The goal of the fundraiser was actually more than just raising the funds. The goal of the fundraiser was to make it known to all of city council that all of Ridgecrest wants Pinney Pool back.”

While the Ridgecrest City Council has had some roadblocks in reopening the pool, it’s something all councilmembers have expressed that the city needs.

“There isn’t a single councilperson who doesn’t want the pool back,” said Mayor Peggy Breeden in an interview.

When the pool closed in 2016, the city wasn’t in a good position financially to address the ADA problems. With quotes for restoring the pool coming in at upwards of $1 million, council voted to approve funds for a splash pad at City Hall as a temporary respite from the absence of a pool.

“It wasn’t until after we approved the splash pad that one of our committees came back with more reasonable estimates for the pool,” said Breeden.

“It’s why we were hesitant about the splash pad in the first place.”

Local contractors – led by Cordell Construction – have since said they would volunteer in-kind services to help get restoration efforts moving, but details aren’t yet concrete.

“We’re still waiting to get word from the city on prevailing wages and how we can work together,” said Chuck Cordell of Cordell Construction. “It’s like if the city has some playground equipment and wants it installed, why can’t volunteers put it up? But there’s red tape.”

Cordell said he hopes to have the project completed by May 2019, but that won’t happen if work doesn’t start soon.

The city set aside funds earlier this year to contribute construction materials to the project.

At press time, staff was not available to give an update on the city’s involvement.

Story First Published: 2018-07-27