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Tahoe Park pool didn’t make the list for the Save Mart “Save Our Pools” campaign, so, faced with the possibility of a dry pool during a hot summer, neighborhood leaders joined forces with a city councilman, a county supervisor and the Sierra Health Foundation to plan their own rescue effort – and succeeded.
“The neighborhood just wouldn’t take no for an answer,” City Councilman Kevin McCarty said. “I’m proud of everyone for that.”
While Save Mart grocery stores were working with the city of Sacramento to raise $1 million to save six city pools from closure this spring, a contingent of Tahoe Park volunteers and neighborhood association leaders were diligently stuffing envelopes and knocking on doors to raise the money needed to keep their pool open.
Eric Guerra, president of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association, took the lead in the fundraising campaign, which he said was initially only intended to raise enough to keep the kiddie pool open at Tahoe Park.
“The cost of getting the large pool open full time would be over $80,000 and we knew that wasn’t possible,” Guerra said. “But we thought maybe we could do more than just the wading pool.”
Guerra and fellow neighborhood association members Ryan Murphy and Kimberly Pell decided to shoot for a middle ground: $42,000 to open the pool part-time.
Pell, a high school teacher at Jesuit High School, met Sierra Health Foundation CEO Chet Hewitt at a career day at her school and asked if the foundation would be interested in participating in saving Tahoe Park pool. The response was positive: Hewitt said if the community and the council member would raise half of the necessary funds, the foundation would come in with the other half.
McCarty said that, once Sierra Health Foundation was on board with their matching pledge, he reached out to Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna to help the Tahoe Park community raise the rest.
“What speaks volumes about Tahoe Park is that many people gave small amounts,” Guerra said. “Even some people who don’t really use the pool or don’t have kids – they felt bad about not having it open for everyone else.”
In total, donations from community members and nearby businesses came to just under $4,000, Guerra said, and McCarty and Serna together raised another $17,000.
“We are all clear this is not a long term solution,” Guerra said. “By far everyone feels this is a city responsibility, but, still, we understand the city’s fiscal challenges, too.”
The formal ribbon-cutting ceremony in late June was the first time anyone used the pool since 2010, Murphy said, and about 50 people came out to celebrate. The pool has been packed with swimmers since then, he added.
“When I ride by the poole and see it’s clean and people are there and kids are swimming, I think to myself, ‘OK. The effort was worth it,’” Murphy said.
Tahoe Park Pool, 3535 59th St., will be open for recreational swim from 2-6 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through Aug. 25.
Tahoe Park joins Glenn Hall and Southside Park in the list of city pools that have been granted a reprieve from summer closure through community efforts.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @MelissaCorker.