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Plea for Funds to Fix Swimming Pool Comes Up Almost Dry : Recreation: City officials receive less than $200 of the $300,000 needed. Little hope seen for reopening during current budget crisis.


COVINA — A plan to stir up a wave of public giving to rescue the municipal swimming pool, which has been closed three years for repairs the city cannot afford, has produced no more than a trickle of interest this summer.

After appealing to residents and business owners for donations throughout the summer, city officials have received less than $200 of the $300,000 needed for repairs to begin.

"Money is tight and people are not going to open their wallets when there are more critical things on our agenda," Mayor Henry M. Morgan said. "And the city certainly has no funds to do it."

The apparent failure of the appeal leaves little hope that the pool can reopen, at least during the current budget crisis.

The city was forced to close the 69-year-old Covina Park Plunge in 1989 because of leaks, cracks and a faulty filtering system. The pool has remained dry because the city doesn't have the estimated $630,554 needed to refurbish it.

The city could qualify for grants to reimburse it for half the cost, but only if it completes the project first, officials said.

Last year, the City Council decided that if the pool were reopened, the community would have to chip in at least half the money.


This spring, the parks and recreation staff embarked on a fund-raising campaign with a survey mailed to 28,034 addresses in the city's quarterly newsletter.

The response was not encouraging: Only 226 questionnaires, or less than 1% of the survey, came in.

Of those who responded, 188 said the city needs its own pool and 37 said it did not. Asked what they were willing to pay to help renovate the pool, 25% said they would give nothing. However, the rest said they would give amounts ranging from $1 to $250. One person volunteered $1,000.

This summer, flyers were distributed urging residents to "Take the Plunge, Save the Plunge." A form on the flyer asked residents to mail in their contributions.

So far, less than $200 has been received.

Letters were also sent to large corporations and other businesses seeking donations ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. None have responded.

Unwilling to concede defeat, staff members are conducting presentations at local service clubs and hope to put a public service announcement on the local cable channel.

If that effort produces no better results, officials said, they will refund the $200 so far collected.

The pool, built in 1923, was refurbished in the 1950s when the city had the funds. In 1975, it was divided into two pools, the smaller one for swimming classes.

In October, 1990, shortly after the pool was closed, the consulting firm Aquatics Design Group determined that the equipment and machinery needed to be brought up to modern health and safety standards. Also, the firm's preliminary study showed that the pools had cracks in the bottoms and decks, leaky pipes, and a decaying filtering system. The heater and diving boards also needed replacing, and the locker rooms needed renovating.

Finance Director Stan McCartney said the city cannot pay for the project from general funds when it faces a $1.9-million deficit in the 1992-1993 budget. Parks and recreation officials hope to pay for half the cost out of federal Community Block Grant funds and equipment reserves.

Last May, however, the state, which administers the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, denied the city's application for the project because the city could not raise the entire amount needed. The fund only pays for completed work.

In the meantime, some Covina residents are spending the long hot summer at the YMCA.

Jennifer Ayers, administration analyst for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said people began calling in June to see if the pool would reopen or to find out the location of the nearest open pool. They are referred to the YMCA on Rowland Avenue, she said.

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