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Why is Rinconada's swimming pool still closed on weekdays?

Original post made by Flagrante, Duveneck/St. Francis, on Jun 19, 2008

School is now out for the summer, it's hot, and the pool is still closed to recreational swimming on weekdays? How is this possible? In past years, as I remember, the pool opened to kids in May, not at the end of June.

The city Aquatics web page shows it will open on June 21st:
Web Link

Recreation Swim Schedule

May 3 - June 15, 2008
Saturday and Sunday: 12:30-4:30pm

June 21 - August 24, 2008
Monday - Thursday: Wading Pool: 10am-4:30pm, Lap Pool: 1:30-4:30pm
Friday: Wading Pool: 11:30am-4:30pm, Lap Pool: 1:30-4:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11:15am-4:30pm (both pools)

I don't get it.

Comments (29)

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 19, 2008 at 10:10 am

School is out. I agree the lack of availability of swim hours at Rinconada has impacted us negatively, as we live close by and would have liked access to this public swimming pool before going away tomorrow (to a cold climate - not really a vacation - not really for swimming!)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2008 at 10:51 am

I don't get it. Other cities are able to open their pools far longer than we are. The weather will be hot mid August, and the pool will be shut.

This is ridiculous. We live in California and we can't get life guards???

The Y gets staff. Private pools get staff. Other cities get staff. Why don't we?

I suppose if we said that we were funding a childrens theatre instead we would be inundated with remarks about how good theatre is for children. Well, I for one think children should be able to go swimming when it is hot. Hot children in summer get crabby. Swimming is cooling, calming and exercise.

Open the pool, please and make it a city priority.

Posted by Other Viewpoint
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Many of the staff are school age- high school & college. When they get out of school the following week is for training (that would be this week). The pools will all be open next week I presume. If it wasn't hot out this week- people would not be complaining. The weather doesn't always cooperate. The city also budgets a certain amount of money to run these pools- which bring in absolutely no revenue- except in the summer from swim lessons and from team rentals. No one else but students are going to take a job as a lifeguard since it pays $10-$14 per hour roughly. It is tough to find staff too especially during the year with all of the pressures and extra curriculars students endure.

The Y and private facilities have membership fees to help maintain the pool and usually have less staff because the facilities are smaller. They can also probably give them more hours doing other things around club whereas the public pool is not the same. Also- part-time staff are limited to a certain number of hours per year or they have to be unionized and the city has to pay benefits...this is becoming an epidemic around the peninsula and is causing major staffing issues for many cities.

At Rinc, they need at least 8 guards and a manager minimum to run that facility during the summer rec swim times. Many other cities have staffing issues and similar schedules. Some pools only open for summer and at least Rinc has lap swim year-round. Burgess runs like a more privatized club- so not comparable. Plus they charge more. There are trade-offs. Also- swim lifers like coaches and instructors make more money doing their jobs and are not willing to make less to guard in their downtime- if they have any.

At least know that the city is training staff this week so patrons will be safe. If the city started paying a lot of money for guards and benefiting them- people would be more likely to do it...but that costs a lot and that would be another blog topic.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2008 at 7:34 am

It is axiomatic in government that when budget increases are denied, the sacrifice is almost always in those services directly effecting the public. Last to go are the perks of public jobs like upscale autos and attendance at conferences in exotic climes.

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:03 am

Just another data point for the advantages of private vs. public. The government should not run swimming pools -- or libraries.

Posted by pool user
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:03 am

>Burgess runs like a more privatized club- so not comparable.

At least it's open and has been for some time. I've been going there since the Rinc is always closed so I don't know what you mean by it being run as privatized club. It runs as a public pool from what I can tell. The city should consider contacting Team Sheeper MultiSport at (650) 328-7946 to operate our pool as well.

Just look at Burgess' recreational opening hours:

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
12:00pm - 8:00pm

Wednesday and Friday
12:00pm - 7:00pm

10:00am - 1:00pm in the Performance Pool
1:00pm - 6:00pm in the Instructional Pool

10:00am - 6:00pm in the Instructional Pool

Then compare with Rinconada recreational opening hours:

May 3 - June 15, 2008
Saturday and Sunday: 12:30-4:30pm

June 21 - August 24, 2008
Monday - Thursday: Wading Pool: 10am-4:30pm, Lap Pool: 1:30-4:30pm
Friday: Wading Pool: 11:30am-4:30pm, Lap Pool: 1:30-4:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11:15am-4:30pm (both pools)

Posted by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jun 20, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Becky Trout is a registered user.

Hi all,

I just spoke with Richard James, soon-to-be retired Community Services Director. He said Rinconada opened the same day as the May Fete parade, just as it has for about 10 years. It is open every day except this week, when they were training staff.


Posted by Flagrante
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 20, 2008 at 3:38 pm

My initial point is that the pool is closed on weekdays. This is a fact that exists now. Mr. James is skirting the truth here. It opened in May for weekends, but remains closed on weekdays. In years past it opened for full business after the May Fete Parade.

It seems that each year the weekday opening date gets pushed back further and further. It's 100 degrees outside, school is out, and the pool is closed today. Training employees or not, the fact is that the pool is closed, and in past years this has not been the case at this late a date.

Posted by Other Viewpoint
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Pool User-

THe comment about it being more like a privatized club was in reference to the way they can staff and pay their staff. They have year-round coaches, etc and are not help to the city budget since they are contracted.

Also- if you go to Burgess- the pool may be open for rec swim, but I have heard that sometimes the open areas are very limited due to team workouts, etc.

I worked at Rinc for a long time (summers through college, and more etc.) Rec swim used to only run late June through August and then Weekends through September- so at least they are opened more hours now than before.

Posted by Other Viewpoint
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2008 at 4:05 pm

This week has always been used for staff training as long as I can remember. All camps and aquatics programs always start next week. Any weeks prior have no staff because they are in school or coming home from college and needing updates on their training. CPR and some other recs are yearly certifications. If you know of anyone who wants to work at the pool year-round for lap swim and summer programs- send them to the city! The hours are not full time and in small chunks throughout the day.

Posted by Jake
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Yes, the Pool has opened after the May Day Parade for decades ( thank
goodness ). But there was also a time when Rec swim was open in the
late afternoons for kids - after school, before summer. Monday night
was Rec swim during the summer ( Family night )and the City opened
several school pools during the summer. Obviously, there is now fewer Recreational Swimming hours.
To those who would act like an Apologist for the City, citing excuses,
misinformation and ahistoric accounts, I would like to say
"Can't never could do anything". I believe if there is a will to provide swimming for our kids, then there is way. Maybe it is time
to privatize the operation of Rinconada Pool. Maybe then, we can
believe the pool will be open. Maybe then, some of the traditional
Rec Swim hours will be returned to the kids. - Jake


Posted by don't go there
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:56 pm

The impression I get of Rinconada is that they cater for the swim clubs and recreational swimmers are second class citizens.

Posted by Other Viewpoint
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm

I agree that yes- would be great if this were the case. Never said it couldn't be done...just giving the reasoning that I knew why it wasn't to help people understand the process as it is. I was just citing what I have known having worked there for about 10 years or so and being in the public sector still. I guess I missed the family nights...just giving some background to things. I would suggest to anyone that if you have some good suggestions that are realistic I suggest you bring them to the Aquatics supervisor and discuss ways to try and change things...or become a member of the parks and recreation commission. In our city we look at ways to change things all the time that will work within our budget, staff constraints, etc. Sometimes it takes some residents to come forward in a productive fashion to assist in this.
Go for it!

Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 21, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I am on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and I follow these postings even when I don't weigh in. Providing services to members of the community is what we spend our time worrying about and thinking about, and providing those who work for the City on such matters our thoughts as fellow residents about what can be done to maintain and enhance the services our community have available to it.

It is a challenge, at least for me, to always know what is a specific problem or issue that needs to be solved, and what are instead philosophical issues, or matters that affect a few, but not the many. I view my "job," such as it is as a Parks Commissioner, to ask questions and listen to input, however imperfect, in order to see if we can identify ways to reasonably meet the needs the City attempts to meet through it various programs.

This thread is a great example of my not really being able to understand from the postings if this is an issue of communications, an issue of service provided not lining up with the service needed, or another platform for people to extol the virtues/vices of private -vs- public approaches to offerings to the public.

I also was in conversation with someone outside of Palo Alto this week and we were discussing how difficult it is to understand if an issue is something that a handful of people have, or if it is an issue that many have and only a handful of people are willing to speak up about. I do not attempt to please everybody in what little influence I have in matters Palo Alto, but I do try to be sensitive to those in the minority without disrupting a greater good.

If pool hours of operation for particular groups, such as open and recreational swimming, really is a problem, I for one would welcome hearing from people and seeing if it is something that the Commission should dialog with Staff about. These discussions are typically very healthy for all involved, and often lead to results that improve situations that were not entirely noticed by those involved in regular operations.

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2008 at 7:38 am

Is Becky Trout right? Is the pool open every day?

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2008 at 7:49 am

Hey, The City has 1.4 Million$$$$ and counting into Franks house. Does he have a pool?

Now if the City builds a pool at FRANK and THE CITIEs House. Frank will pay for half. So the City will not have to float a bond.
Swim party at franks, pay at the door. Who do we call to get the real hour of operation?

Posted by pool user
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2008 at 8:02 am

Paul, personally the pool hours are a problem. Growing up in another district I used to go to the pool with my parents until 8:00 pm. In Palo Alto, Rinconada's hours mean I can never take my child to the pool during the week. I don't know if this is a problem for other parents. I would think so but have no details. So, you're right, how do you distinguish between one person's wish and the districts wants/needs?

Posted by Jake
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2008 at 9:08 am

Hi Paul,
Thank you for your continued interest. Perhaps I should state the
primary issue in another way: One goes to the pool. One discovers it
closed because of lack of staff. One goes home. We could categorize it
as "service not lining up with service stated".
My action plan this season is to document these occurrences (it has
happened twice so far this year). I'll be happy to send the Parks and Rec Com the results at the end of the season in September.
FIREMAN - No- the pool has not been open weekdays. That begins Monday,
6/23/08 - Jake

Posted by Jake
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2008 at 9:14 am

I should mention I was referring to scheduled Recreational Swim hours- Jake

Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2008 at 11:38 am

Factual information and clearly stated needs are a good way to see if there are gaps that need filling. I am neither defending nor concerned at this point about how the pool is operating. But is a community resource and we need to make sure it is operating in a manner that meets community needs as fully as possible. If it is, great. If it is not, understanding where the areas are for improvement without bluster about certain individuals or tomes around political philosophy may get us somewhere.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I agree with the poster above who says that a community pool should be open in the early evening. It used to be that kids and teenagers were bored during the long summer days, but that is no longer the case. Today's children and teens are signed up for camps and other activities to the extent that during the day they are busy. The time they are free for swimming is after their activities and it would be great for them at this stage to cool off in the early evenings.

I like the thread about growing up in PA and many people said how they remember the snack bar at Rinconada. I wonder if the problem was food and greasy/ketchupy people getting into the pool? I can agree that that would not be pleasant. But, if there was a way to prevent that, it would be a great place for the modern older child teen to be given money to get dinner and a swim after their soccer camp/science camp/tutoring session or whatever.

I think open rec. swimming until 8.00 pm would make a lot of sense and be very popular with the teens I know.

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2008 at 3:04 pm

So Jake. The person who speaks for the City said" The pool is open everyday" Becky reports the pool is open everyday.

The facts and truth is. The pool is not open everyday. I know it has been before, they want to, it could be.

But the truth and facts is that it is not. And the city is telling everyone it is.. So the people who have gone down there ,tried to use the pool and then found locked gates and no one there. ARE CRAZY, or BAD CITIZENS, the City said it was open. So it must be...

Posted by Other Viewpoint
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I think a late rec swim sounds good, but the conflict would be lap swim- very popular and swim team- popular as well. Hopefully there can be a compromise since those two programs are also made up of residents who have a different need than rec swim.

Posted by parent
a resident of University South
on Jun 23, 2008 at 9:24 am

About 8 years ago I was unhappy that the rec swim hours were so short, and I happened to know the mayor at that time, and when I metioned it to him he promptly put me on the Aquatics committee. I met with them a few times as basically the only committee member who was concerned about rec swim. The other members represented swim clubs, lap swimmers, etc. It was tough sledding to get the committee to recognize that rec swim is every bit as important as their groups. In my opinion, I thought it was MORE important as there were way more rec swimmers by their own count than participants in the other programs!

Back then I managed to get a few more hours added on weekdays, but after that session I never heard from them again so I assumed I was no longer on the committee. I always thought it was a shame that we have this terrific pool here that is so unavailable at hours when children and families would be most likely to use it. It seems to me that in the summer, the various formal programs should be able to use the pools at the middle and high schools, and we should have more hours at Rinconada, which is set up for young children, as a resource for recreational and family swimmers.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 23, 2008 at 9:36 am

Milpitas has a Sports Center that includes aquatics:

"The Milpitas Sports Center is a full service fitness center that offers something for everyone. Our facility includes a 33-piece fitness center, 4 pools, large gym and two aerobics studios. Locker rooms and showers are available."

Cost for residents is $3/day. Hours are from 6am to 9pm, and rec swimming is available all day. Lap swimming is almost always available when the center is open.

And here in Palo Alto, we sneer at places like Milpitas because we have such "superior" services avaliable to residents.

The only thing superior about PA is how we pay our employees.

Posted by Other Viewpoint
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2008 at 2:06 pm

That is awesome! I know that many cities are looking to go in that direction. Milpitas probably had some funding to build this center during the dot boom and did. They were an emerging city with land to build on. The cities around this immediate area have to tear something down or try to buy new property- which price wise is usually not possible.
I know the city I work for REALLY wants to do this type of center...looking for ways to fund it currently. It's definitely the wave of the future to have an all-ages health and wellness facility. By the way, Milpitas is one of the higher paying cities in the bay area. I know this because when we benchmark salaries per position for our upgrades, we have seen theirs. :-)
A new complex in Rinconada Park near the pool could be great! ;-)

Posted by Jake
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Parent- I'm glad someone has been willing to be an advocate for
the Recreational Swim program. Thank you for your efforts to provide
our kids with more access to the Pool. - Jake

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Milpitas has the highest paid Firefighters in the area. It was in there contract. To be the highest paid was how it was written.

Bob, The people who get paid big money are people like Frank Benest, Gary Baum, Lynn Johnson, Nick marinario. And Franks pal from so cal Russ carlson. Sandra Blanch.

If you are or have been a city employee these names make you sick to your stomach.
All the ones getting all the MONEY, are causeing all the problems.

1.4 million to move in for the City manager. Then 200+ k a year.
For costing the city millions and getting his friends and pals jobs to continue is dirty deeds.

The average City Employee does not get close to what these people do. Not to mention how much they cost the city of being discusting

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:48 pm

G not c right?

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