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You Ask: Can Albany's New Indoor Pool Replace Closed Berkeley Warm Pool?

With the recent shuttering of the Berkeley warm pool, home to therapeutic swim programs, some are asking if Albany’s new indoor pool can pick up the slack. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an alert when we write about the pool.

When the Berkeley High warm pool closed permanently last month, several Patch readers asked if Albany's could fill the gap. 

Berkeley's pool, kept at a cozy temperature of about 92 degrees, was home to a variety of therapeutic programs. 

Warm water exercise can be helpful for people with disabilities, certain medical conditions or injuries. Some seniors and children also prefer warmer temps.

Berkeley's warm pool, operated by the city, was the largest in the near-area. The Berkeley YMCA runs a smaller warm pool, and there are 92-degree pools in San Jose, Palo Alto, Fremont, Newark, Livermore and Dublin

The language of Measure E, the bond to fund , specifically mentions therapeutic use.

Among  rumors are flying about what Albany's new aquatic center will offer, including the suitability of the indoor pool for theraputics. 

We asked Pool Director Amanda Garcia for clarification. Coincidentally, Garcia had just finished preparing a report on the indoor pool temperature, attached to this story as a PDF. 

In short: Garcia is planning to heat the indoor pool to a temperature of 83 to 85 degrees F, which isn’t as warm as the Berkeley pool, but is acceptable for therapeutic use, she said. 

In her report, Garcia explains that one of the reasons for choosing this temperaure is the added operating cost of heating higher. The range will also be suitable for many needs, she said.

By comparison, the larger outdoor pool will be kept at about 78 to 80 degrees, as desired by swim teams and lap swimmers, said Garcia.

She said she consulted a variety of experts for advice on both pool temperatures, including the physical therapy services that regularly rented Albany's old pool for classes—a use that will continue when the new center opens.

The school district’s goal, Garcia said, is for the indoor pool to house a variety of community programs, from water aerobics to physical therapy classes, and swim lessons to party rentals.

The district will charge fees for these programs. “The pool that’s going to generate most of our revenue is the indoor pool.”

The large pool, by comparison, is designated for school swim teams and water polo, lap swim, possibly a master’s swimming program, as well as community recreation, Garcia said. Community, versus school, uses will also be fee-based. 

Programs at both pools will evolve with needs and demands, she said.

Sensitive to the need for the aquatic center to generate operating revenue quickly, Garcia said her aim is to keep both pools busy. “I’m going to try my best to have programs going on all day long.”  

This will require the cost of full staffing, she said, but robust programming will generate the most income. 

What do you think of the planned temperatures of Albany's new swimming pools? Tell us in the comments.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an alert when we write about the pool.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Lori February 02, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I also want to point out that Albany is a fairly wealthy community. From the census: The estimated Black/African American population is 675, which is 4.1 percent of the total population in town (The U.S. average is 12.30%). And it is well known that African American Children have a much higher rate of drowning according to the NICHD. So maybe Albany doesn't care about the the best swimming lessons, or the disabled community? I want to thank every one for the comments--it's been a great process. I only hope we can do what is right and fair and raise that water temperature! Thanks.
Ross Stapleton-Gray February 02, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Um, Lori, that post seems like a hodge-podge of non sequiturs. Did you intend it to be read as, "Albany is mainly rich people who wouldn't mind if its comparatively few minority members drowned?"
Lori February 02, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Ouch! Thanks for pointing that out. No, of course I didn't mean to imply that and I am very sorry my post read that way. That would be Berkeley who doesn't care! Sorry, I couldn't resist -- I think I'm getting too tired to post as my last post shows. Again thanks for alerting me.
Tatter Salad March 22, 2012 at 08:12 AM
That ship has sailed. The pool is designed to be self suffecient, with income from 3rd party users to conduct therapy classes. The published primary goal: to provide for the Albany High, was cast aside, as the lap pool is about 8 feet too short; they made a 25 foot pool rather than the absolute minimum 25 meter pool.
Emilie Raguso September 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Albany Patch is preparing a list of questions from readers for school board candidates. We've scheduled, in conjunction with St. Alban's, candidate forums in October. (BOE: Oct. 10; CC: Oct. 17) Details here: http://patch.com/A-ybgT Please comment back ASAP to let us know your questions for school board candidates, or email me at albany@patch.com.

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