State floats millions for pool repairs

State Sen. Toni Atkins and other elected officials celebrated a windfall of $2 million to repair the National City pool. (Eaton)

National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and community members accepted a $2 million dollar check from the state of California on Nov. 17, to be spent on repairs and improvements for Las Palmas pool.

The lump sum effectively doubles the dollars available for the facility, since the City of National City’s leaders already slated $2.25 million of inbound American Rescue Plan Act funds for facility improvements at Las Palmas pool on Oct. 19.

During that meeting, Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis advocated for a previously considered wellness center on the property alongside the pool and recreation center. At the time, City Council member Mona Rios expressed concern that a wellness center might not serve the whole community and the idea was dropped for the time being.

However on Wednesday, Sotelo-Solis said “this funding will leverage the $2 million already in place” and might be used in part to develop the envisioned wellness center, likely designed to connect the pool area and adjacent Camacho Recreation Center.

Funding will primarily be spent in part for repairs to the pool and filtration system, and to rehabilitate the pool deck and dressing rooms that are in need of maintenance that has been deferred for several years.

A staff member at Las Palmas pool estimated the pool lost about 17,000 gallons of water in just one leak that left the pool closed for emergency repairs.

“We talk about preserving treasures in neighborhoods, well look behind us. Also, it was built in 1958— that’s older than I am and I could use a little work” Atkins said with a chuckle.

State Sen. Ben Hueso also described the pool as unique, “an amazing facility”, in part because it runs 50 meters long, allowing competition swimmers to practice for longer courses with half the number of turns they would have to complete in a 25 meter pool.

“Wealthier cities don’t have amenities like this,” Hueso said.

While there are other pools throughout the county that also feature 50-meter long lap lanes, such as one at Southwestern College, Hueso noted this is the only local, public pool of that size and therefore provides an equitable opportunity for swimmers of all economic backgrounds to practice their sport.

“With this new funding, Las Palmas’ legacy and impact will not only continue, but expand and reach even more members of our community. I’m beyond proud to support this project,” Hueso said and gave credit to fellow state senator Toni Atkins for helping to bring the funding to National City.

Reinvesting the funding back into the community will “deliver once-in-a-lifetime, transformational change” as a result of the positive state budget,” Atkins said.
Las Palmas pool is at 1800 East 22nd St.