CROWS LANDING - A community pool which has stood empty for the past decade could once again become a centerpiece of summertime recreation on the West Side, if grant funding materializes through the state.
Stanislaus County has applied to the state for Proposition 68 funds to complete a $770,000 renovation of the now-closed Bonita swimming pool and improvements to the surrounding park.
Their vision, and the support of the community, were on full display Monday morning when a delegation from the state Natural Resources Agency paid a site visit to Crows Landing to get a first-hand look at the proposed project.
Nearly 50 local residents turned out to show their backing for the project.
Many shared childhood memories of their own summer days spent at the popular pool, which was a community gathering point as well as a recreational outlet.
The pool and adjacent park could once again be a centerpiece for the community....if the project gains state funding.
County official said the project involves a number of components, including a totally refurbished pool, new restrooms and concession stand, a splash pad, park playground and other park upgrades.
The improvements would be more than welcome in Crows Landing, several in attendance stressed.
“We’ve been waiting for 10 years for something for the children,” said Gerry Garcia, a Crows Landing resident and member of the Crows Landing Lions Club, which he said is actively supporting the endeavor.
“Everybody wants to see something for the kids. Right now, there really is not much to do,” Garcia commented. A pool and park would provide employment opportunities and help bring back a sense of community cohesiveness, Garcia added.
“We hear stories about how it used to be. We want to make it be something that people want to come out and visit....and take care of,” he stated.
Olivia Esquivez and others echoed those sentiments.
“We truly need it. We don’t have anything in our community to entertain our youth,” Esquivez stated.
County officials assured those gathered that they are fully behind the project.
“We are making every effort we can to bring this to fruition,” said Lisa Velarde, grant coordinator for the county’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We want to provide (the) community with additional recreation opportunities.”
“We are pushing full steam ahead on this pool,” added James Pursley, another county Parks and Recreation staff member. Pursley said the sheer number of residents turning out on a warm weekday morning to show their support for the project “spoke volumes” about the importance of the pool and park to the community.
At first blush, the numbers appear to be stacked against the project.
Officials said some 200 applications seeking a total of $400 million in funding were submitted for the Prop. 68 money. Only $37 million is available for allocation.
But encouragingly, Crows Landing was among 10 percent of applicants selected to receive a site visit.
The county will be notified in July if the Crows Landing project is among those selected to move to the third and final phase of the process, during which projects are chosen for funding.
County officials in attendance expressed optimism that they made a strong case for funding.
“We were able to answer all of their questions without exception,” Pursley told Mattos Newspapers.
If the project comes to fruition, Stanislaus County would maintain the pool and parks while the county’s PAL program would manage the recreational programs.
Even if the county proposal is funded, officials said, the earliest likely date for re-opening a renovated pool would be summer 2021.