Community to pick up pool maintenance tab

Leanne Cave

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The $3.35 million state-of-the-art William A. Wheeler Aquatic Center, which includes a newly constructed 50-meter pool and a renovated older pool, opened this summer to help meet the needs of the community.

And the community will pay the price for maintaining the beautiful facilities on the Bakersfield College campus.

According to BC Athletics Director Jan Stuebbe, the maintenance of the center will cost approximately $120,000 a year.

“The community has a great need for water facilities and the building of the new pool is a part of our mission statement to serve those needs,” he said. “Even with the new facilities, there is still not enough water to serve the needs of the community.”

One of the ways the community will pay for the maintenance costs is Learn to Swim Club programs in the summer, which, according to Stuebbe, is projected to bring in approximately $50,000 to $60,000 a year toward the maintenance costs.

Besides this, other community clubs, as well as the public, can purchase swim passes that cost $50 per person to use the pool from Aug. 26 to Dec. 13. This also will help to make up the difference, he said.

In addition, each of the three local swim clubs pay between $15,000 to $25,000 a year to use the pool, Stuebbe said. These include the Bakersfield Swim Club, Riptide and South Valley.

Carol Townsend, who is president of the Bakersfield Swim Club, said that the clubs sign contracts with the college and are charged a rate per lane per hour.

Townsend said the pool is convenient because it is close to home.

“The swim club enjoys using the facilities and it’s closer to home for me because I live on the east side.”

The newly constructed pool was not in the original vision four years ago.

“Originally, we had state money, a $737,000 maintenance fund, to renovate the old pool,” Stuebbe said. “But because of generous donors that contributed well over a million dollars to the project, we were able to build a new pool, along with the renovating the existing pool.”

Stuebbe also stated that the college hopes to establish a swim team within three years.

Linda Quinones-Vaughan, executive director of administrative services and external relations, said there was tremendous community response by donors to make it all happen.

One of the donors, the Kern High School District, has a great need for pools on the east side, especially for swim meets, such as Central Section contests, as well as league meets. The money generated from these meets also will be used to maintain the new facilities, according to Stuebbe.

Dennis Scott, associate superintendent of the Kern High School District, said that the district donated $350,000 to the aquatic center as prepayment for 20 years of use by the high schools near BC.

The schools can use the pool for four hours a day, from February to May.

“There is a great need for water on the east side of Bakersfield,” Scott said. “The high schools that are projected to benefit from the use of the pool right away are East Bakersfield High, Foothill High and Highland High.”

Individual donors, as well as foundations, played an important role in the construction of the center. Some donors included the Harry and Ethel West Foundation, which contributed $75,000; the Wheeler grant for $250,000; the Townsend grant for more than $300,000; and individual donors who contributed approximately $5,700, according to

Quinones-Vaughan.

Tina Cummings, aquatics director at BC, said sales of the passes for recreational and adult swimming are going well.

“All the monies generated from instructional swim or recreational swim also go for maintenance of the pool,” she said. “It’s going really well, it really is.”

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