After many months of making their case, residents of Rohnert Park's M Section neighborhood will get the Magnolia swimming pool back on a part-time basis.
The City Council voted 4-1 to spend $18,700 to reopen the pool — which was shut in 2010 for budget reasons — on weekends, four hours a day, from July 1 to Aug. 25.
“People pay taxes, we have to give them some sort of service for that,” said Vice Mayor Joe Callinan, who opposed closing the pool in the first place.
The pools have long helped bring the community together, he said.
After a day of budget discussions — the city faces a $2.3 million deficit next year — and after hearing officials say they could not afford to reopen the pool without cutting part-time staff or programs, Mayor Pam Stafford, who voted “no,” said the city could not afford it. The city already has two other pools open for all residents. she said.
“I just can't see hurting another entity in our city because you want a swimming pool open in your neighborhood,” she said.
Applause greeted the eventual decision, which followed a long discussion in which council members tossed around alternatives.
What about not using lifeguards, requiring residents to pay for a key card to enter, “and everybody is responsible for their own kids?” asked Councilwoman Gina Belforte, also to applause.
The city's community services manager, Guy Miller, seemed uncomfortable with that option, which drew applause.
State law requires lifeguards if admission is charged to pools, he said, and if it wasn't, well, “the city is a deep pocket,” he said, suggesting it would be a target if anything bad happened.
But Councilman Jake Mackenzie, who previously had opposed the reopening, took up Belforte's idea. He added to the motion a requirement that a long-range study of the city's aquatics program be done that would address the question of whether pools without lifeguards that were supported by subscriptions or another such arrangement were feasible.
“This to me is not necessarily about the numbers,” Belforte said. “It's about finding a solution.”