Once again, there are rumblings of a civic center remodel with possible inclusion of a community pool. I hope that discussions start again with the city, and, this time, I hope that a community pool will be near the top of the priority list.
Here is why Los Altos needs a pool: Simply, we do not have one. Neither does the town of Los Altos Hills. Why? It seems as though every surrounding community has a pool. Why not Los Altos and Los Altos Hills?
Years ago, the city of Los Altos had its community pool at Covington School. Los Altos ran its spring and summer recreation swim programs at the pool, with overflow at Los Altos High. On days of swim meets at Covington, families could swim recreationally at Los Altos High. Mental note: two pools.
One of the best things to grow from the summer swim program was the creation of a competitive swim team in 1968, the Covington Critters. Amazingly, the Covington Critters still exist today as the Covington Swim Team. This homeless team is still growing and maintains its family atmosphere.
We have no place for the Covington Swim Team to practice. Why can’t we have our own swim facility that would be a source of community pride?
Here’s why: The Los Altos Recreation Department historically had full use of the pools at Covington and Los Altos High. In 2001, the Covington pool closed when the Los Altos School District renovated the Covington campus.
The city was no longer involved in providing any sort of summer swim programs. Several swimmers assumed management of keeping the Critters together. Moving the team to Los Altos High seemed logical. However, as sports camps grew in participation, pool availability at the high school became scarce, forcing the team to move several times to neighboring cities.
The challenge of running a full-fledged summer swim team with only limited use at Los Altos High prompted coaches and managers to become creative over the years. With Covington’s closure and the limited availability of Los Altos High, the biggest problem facing the team and swimmers was that not only were they now minus one pool, but really they were minus two pools.
In all fairness, the high schools, both Mountain View and Los Altos, have gone out of their way to be accommodating. Truthfully, the lack of pool time is really not their problem to solve.
Why is this so hard for us to understand as community members? When we send Los Altos residents to other communities or swim clubs, it clearly suggests that there is a need not being met. The fact that we have used dozens of pools in other communities to meet our needs is alarming. The fact that we have a 450-member swim team that still remains homeless is disappointing.
We ask every citizen to be thinking about what a pool could do for this community. Help us think of creative ways, in both time and money, to make a pool become a reality soon. Young children, teenagers and seniors will certainly receive long-term benefits from a community pool. I cannot think of a better way to improve the health, fitness and well-being of our citizens.
Maridee Charlton has helped manage the Covington Critters over the years.