NEWMAN - City and school leaders last week signaled a strong interest in working together to build a pool serving the community as a whole.
Under the scenario discussed at a joint meeting of the Newman City Council and Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District Board of Trustees last week, a school bond measure would be the most likely source of financing.
The district is moving toward putting a bond measure before Newman-Crows Landing voters, possibly as early as March 2020, but has not yet fully identified projects which would be funded by the proceeds.
A pool located on the grounds of Orestimba High School and made available to the public through a joint use agreement with the city is definitely a possibility to make the project list, board members suggested.
“It would help the kids and it would help the community,” school board member Tim Bazar said of a pool.
“The board is favorable (toward) a pool,” agreed board member Vern Snodderly.
Representatives of both agencies voiced support for the concept, citing benefits such as recreational opportunities, the ability to promote water safety by offering swim lessons and the potential to host a competitive swim team.
That approach would require a formal joint use agreement between the two agencies, addressing matters such as public access, sharing of maintenance costs and other logistics.
But City Manager Michael Holland and Superintendent Randy Fillpot each indicated that they believe an agreement establishing a shared use could be reached.
“The council has always just wanted a pool for the community. We never indicated that it has to be the city who builds it,” Holland commented. “We just want to make sure that the community has a pool and that the youth of the community have a safe place to learn to swim and be able to cool off during the summer months.”
Fillpot said his experience while with Modesto City Schools was that joint use of pools posed few problems.
“Every pool at every high school in Modesto was open to the community, mainly during summer hours. I could see where this could be open after school hours. That is part of what Michael and I need to map out,” Fillpot told Mattos Newspapers. “My trustees were very adamant that they want a pool, and they want it to have community access.”
Fillpot and Holland will meet to explore potential joint use agreements.
Fillpot said the district will most likely have its architect begin looking into potential locations for a pool.
“The school board wants to put a pool in, probably at Orestimba, and it sounds like the City Council is just in favor of having a pool,” the superintendent remarked. “We keep thinking about where we could put the pool for it to have community access without putting people on the campus in general.”
The city has purchased a site at the west end of Merced Street/Inyo Avenue which it designated for a community pool, but has been unable to land funding for the project. Those efforts included a bond proposal in 2016 which fell short of approval.
If a pool is eventually built on the Orestimba campus, Holland suggested, the land initially designated for the pool could perhaps be used instead for staff housing which the district is also considering as a potential bond-funded project.
Each agency also offered overviews on pending projects.
The city’s focus was on the Northwest Newman project, at 360-acre development north of the existing city limits and west of Highway 33 which includes commercial, business park and residential components, as well as a school site and parks.
The school district spoke to its facility needs and planned bond measure.
Fillpot and Holland each deemed the joint meeting productive.
“It is helpful that we just meet to talk about some of the projects that are coming up,” Holland commented. “We ultimately serve the same constituency, so working on joint projects where we can will be beneficial to the taxpayers.”