Plan Involving Removal of Warm-Water Pool Approved

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After years of debate, a warm-water pool used by disabled community members will be replaced by other facilities on the Berkeley High School campus.

Last week, the school board unanimously approved a design for the South of Bancroft Master Plan, which will create additional classroom space and a new gym at the high school.

The plan, which is slated to begin construction in June 2011, calls for the demolition of the existing gym, including the warm-water pool.

District spokesperson Mark Coplan said the decision not to include the warm-water pool in the design was based on an assessment of what the school needed the available space for most.

"We were looking at what pieces Berkeley High needed to have in place to finish its reconfiguration and reconstruction," he said.

Coplan also said the school plans to remove all the parking near the current gym, which would make it difficult for people with disabilities to access a new warm-water pool there.

The public has been involved in the discussion about what to include in the space for several years, but ultimately the committee in charge of the plan decided the pool would be better in another location.

"The committee decided that the warm-water pool was important, but it just didn't make sense to be in that location," said Lew Jones, director of facilities for the district.

Earlier this month, the city and the school district agreed to work together to find a suitable location for a new pool and to prepare a bond measure funding the pool for the 2010 ballot. Coplan said the search for a new location will include other district properties.

Despite plans for a bond measure, some citizens are concerned that it will not pass and that they will be left without a suitable pool.

"I don't know that it's totally dead yet, but it's going to be really hard to come up with the funds to take care of it," said Ed Gold, a member of the city's Commission on Disability.

Warm-water pools can be used by people with disabilities for therapeutic exercises.

Another warm-water pool is located at the YMCA, but it does not offer the same therapeutic value because it is too shallow.

"The disabled community especially can do the things and move their bodies in water that they can't do outside the water," Gold said. "People who have trouble moving outside of the water are able to move almost fluidly inside the water."


Amy Brooks covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

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