Santa Clara Seniors Locked Out of Their Senior Center Pool – Letter to the Editor

It seems like forever since our Senior Center pools have been open, 2 and 1/2 years and counting.

Pre-CoVid, our indoor lap pool, with its wide stairs, handrails, and long wheelchair ramp for easy access, is where many Santa Clara seniors swam since its opening more than a decade ago. The hot tub and warm water therapy pool were a God-Send for seniors with hip, back, and knee pain.

The Santa Clara City Council and the Parks and Recreation Director have no plans to reopen the pool this year, and will not commit regarding any planned opening for next year.

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The same old reasons for continued closure of the pools, “We are doing repairs,” and “We don’t have any lifeguards,” were restated this week at a public meeting explaining the new Senior Center membership fees, Basic and Premium. The new fees will begin as soon as October for those with expired membership cards.

The City has stated, in writing, that the Premium membership fee gives Santa Clara Seniors admittance to the Fitness Center and Natatorium.

When Parks and Rec. staff were asked at this week’s meeting if that meant the pools would be open in October to paid Premium Membership seniors, they responded “No”.

How can The City collect a Premium Membership fee and not provide the services stated to be included in that fee?

Oh but wait…

New classes in the Senior Center warm water therapy pool with an instructor and two lifeguards began in August.

So much for the reasons stated at this weeks meeting for the pools continued closure, “repairs” and “no lifeguards.”

Classes are 45 minutes long twice a week and cost $152.00 per month. If you need the pain relief that the warm water pool provides, 12 months of classes will cost you $1,824.00 a year.

Ouch!

Pre-CoVid, Santa Clara seniors were able to soak their weary bones in the Senior Center warm water pool, hot tub and lap pool for free, six days a week.

Now it seems only financially comfortable Seniors can use the warm water pool, at best on a very limited basis if they are lucky enough to secure a spot in the class.

What about the rest of our Santa Clara Seniors?

If you have been calling the Senior Center over the past two plus years  to ask when our Natatorium pools will reopen, Management and phone staff would say, “We are waiting for parts.” “We are working on the lighting.” And most recently, “We don’t have any lifeguards.”

Not true.

The City does have lifeguards.

At this week’s meeting, Parks and Rec. staff said the City currently employs 25 lifeguards.

These City lifeguard resources aren’t being equally shared with the Senior Center.

That feels discriminatory.

The Natatorium is Closed due to “no lifeguards”.

Are the International and Warburton pools closed?

No.

If several of the lifeguards are high school students, then open the Senior Center pools from 3 – 7:00 p.m. I bet these high school City lifeguard employees are wanting the hours.

No creative reopening schedules were discussed at this week’s meetings held at the Senior Center. Attending, you got the feeling that we were there to ‘Listen’,  that all decisions regarding the Natatorium had already been finalized. The Senior Center pools will remain closed to Santa Clara Seniors unless you pay for one of their expensive classes.

And on the subject of paid classes, if two lifeguards are at the Senior Center twice a week for classes in the warm water pool, then why aren’t Santa Clara seniors allowed into the lap pool and hot tub during those hours?

Santa Clara Council members (except Suds Jain who shares my concerns and is interested is pursuing the reopening of the Senior Center Natatorium) do not appear to be advocating for getting the Senior Center pool open for Santa Clara seniors. Unless you pay for a class, Santa Clara seniors aren’t getting into the Senior Center Natatorium.

Parks and Recreation Director Texiera says Santa Clara seniors can use the International pool.

There are no traditional stairs or wheelchair ramps leading down into the International pool.

Some seniors cannot reach the bottom of the International pool for water walking.

The International pool is outdoors.

The Senior Center pool is indoors. It offers shelter from rain, wind, and cold for seniors who are more susceptible to pneumonia, flu, and colds during the winter.

Also, the International pool has no warm water pool or hot tub for therapy.

Yes, our libraries have limited hours, but at least they are Open.

The Senior Center Natatorium is Not Open, not even on a limited schedule.

The City Council needs to determine and implement a schedule, part-time if need be, to reopen the Natatorium.

Try 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. five days a week.

Or 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. if that’s what it takes to get lifeguards.

Quit focusing on the “paid classes” for revenue and focus on all Santa Clara seniors who need the Senior Center pools for their mobility.

The City Council has approved and implemented a new Cost Recovery Policy.

How much is it worth to Santa Clara Seniors to get their Natatorium open?

Are we willing to pay a reasonable monthly fee? I am.

Bottom line, it’s expensive to heat the 3 pools and pay lifeguards.

It’s a beautiful Natatorium.

It seems almost criminal that Santa Clara seniors have been locked out.

Please support and vote for the Council members who step-up and help us get our Natatorium Open.

Consider voting out those who don’t.

Thank You,

Joan Cabral

Senior

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