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Burroughs High School Swim teammates Bui brothers Andrew, Dustin, Douglas, and Steven Olmos qualified for the CIF finals. / Laura Austin Photo

A $12 M to $14 M new Pinney Pool to become a reality

By Bruce Auld News Review Correspondent–  “I’m going to Vietnam. If I don’t come back, make sure they buy a new pump for the pool.” (Sergeant John Pinney to his family) The City of Ridgecrest did better than buying a filtration pump. It built a pool and named the pool the Sergeant John Pinney Memorial Pool. In the 1960s, China Lake had at least five US Navy-maintained pools. Ridgecrest had one, first known as the “Allen” pool and later as “Brewer’s Pool,” located just behind the corner of Norma and Church Streets, the remains of which can be seen from Wilson Street. John Pinney was a Red Cross-trained lifeguard and manager of the Brewer Pool, affectionally known as “Brewer’s Sewer.” The filtration pump was aged and feeble. John would spend his summer nights sleeping in the pump house, nursing the system as needed to ensure the citizens of Ridgecrest had some relief from the summer heat.

Pinney Pool opened in 1972, replacing Ridgecrest’s Brewer Pool, and closed in 2017 due to maintenance issues and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance issues. Pinney Pool was the home of the City of Ridgecrest’s High Desert Swim Team (youth travel team) and the Sherman E. Burroughs High School swim team. Swimming is Burroughs’ most successful athletic program, with four California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championships.

On May 2, 2023, the City of Ridgecrest held a second town hall meeting to assist the design professionals with conceptional citizen input into the design of the pools.The planning process began in 2011 with a feasibility study concerning the condition and future of the existing Pinney Pool. Given the resources at the time, modernization of the facility was not possible. Pinney Pool continued to serve the community until its ultimate closure in 2017. In 2021, the City went through an exhaustive grant proposal process, including substantial community input despite the limitations of pandemic restrictions, in an attempt to obtain $8.5 million to rebuild the pool. Unfortunately, the funding was not realized. Upon the passage of Measure P, the City of Ridgecrest conducted an online Facebook survey regarding priorities for the aquatic complex, with 410 surveys completed. The town hall meetings represent the beginning of the design process. The next town hall meeting will be scheduled in late June or early July.

The City of Ridgecrest could not have selected better design professionals. Dennis Berkshire, President of Aquatics Design Group (the pools), and Scott Gaudineer of Flewelling and Moody Architects (buildings and grounds) have incorporated the input from the first town hall meeting and were on hand to introduce the latest iteration of the project and continue gathering community input. Both Dennis and Scott have over forty-years-experience in their respective fields. Both have extensive experience with projects in locations with extremes in climate. While working on school construction projects in California’s South Bay, I became familiar with both Dennis and Scott and have full confidence in their respective firm’s capabilities.

The old Pinney Pool consisted of the main pool designed for competitive swimming, recreational swimming, and swim lessons. It had a great shallow area, starting at approximately two feet deep for exploratory swimming for four- to six-year-olds. It also had a toddler wading pool.

As currently conceived, there will be three pools: A competition pool of approximately 6,150 square feet, 25 yards by 25 meters, with six competitive lanes and two. “cool down” lanes. The current design would allow for both age groups (4-18-year-old) competitive swimming, high school swimming, water polo, 3-meter diving, recreational/family swimming, swim lessons, and return on investment (rental) functions. A 3,000 square foot Child’s (toddler) pool, contingent on budget. A 1,200-square-foot “therapy” pool for mobility and recreational exercise, including a warm adult lap swim. This pool could be used for competitive warm-up and swim lessons. Each pool will be independent, zone heated. The competitive pool is at 78-80 degrees, the child’s pool is at 85 degrees, and the therapy pool is up to 90 degrees. Although designed as a year-round facility, each pool can be furloughed according to season and user demand. Computerized filtration and sanitation monitoring components are included in the design, which will result in reduced water loss. The City is currently seeking a solar energy grant for the aquatics center.

The old Pinney Pool design did not allow for the relentless winds coming out of the southwest. The current design proposal locates the buildings to create an “aerodynamic wing,” shielding the pools from severe winds. Storage is well designed, and the bleachers will be fold-up and portable, allowing for versatility of space. Dennis and Scott have met my expectations for state-of-the-art aquatic facility design. I was confident they would. A third town hall meeting will be conducted in approximately 30 days, which will allow citizens to review a variety of “options.” Water park features will not be included, as these features are considered “amusement park” rides and require annual permits and increased liability issues.

The $12 million to $14 million “Pinney Pool Aquatic Complex” project is made possible by the passage of Measure P, a one-cent sales tax increase, which passed on November 8, 2022, with 55.22% voter approval. The opening of the new Pinney Pool is anticipated for spring 2025.

In the mid to late 1970s, Ridgecrest dominated Kern County in per capita aquatics participation. The two age group traveling teams of four to eighteen-year-olds boasted a combined 300 swimmers. Another 500 4 -12 grade students received five weeks of swim and water safety training. Some 200 first through third-grade students received Red Cross Water Safety Instructors Association “assembly-line” beginning swimming instruction. In all, about 1,000 Ridgecrest youth received expert instruction in aquatics each year.

Kathy Pinney Segovia, John Pinney’s sister, was present at the meeting and stood to thank the City for its perseverance in making a new Pinney Pool a reality. Kathy noted that her son, Chris Stuart (BHS 1992) grew up in Pinney Pool and was a CIF-qualified swimmer at Burroughs and a scholarship swimmer at Fordham University. Chris practices law in San Francisco.

Burroughs Swimming has wrapped up the 2023 season with the men’s team finishing overall in first place in the Mojave River League. The ladies finished overall in second place, although finishing third in the league final meet. The Bui brothers, Andrew, Dustin, and Douglas, with teammate Steven Olmos qualified for the CIF competition. All four qualified for the CIF finals.

The Burroughs swim team will graduate some fifteen athletes this year after graduating ten athletes last year. There are few, if any, incoming swimmers, as there is no facility for youth travel team development. Thankfully, the City’s commitment to the new Pinney Pool will, in large measure, return Ridgecrest to its competitive swimming and water safety dominance in Kern County.