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Consultant Scott Gaudineer gives a presentation and draft renderings of the proposed Pinney Pool. / Laura Austin Photo

Sgt. John Pinney Pool Complex plans unveiled

By Bruce Auld, News Review Staff Writer–

On June 20, 2023, I attended the City of Ridgecrest’s third town hall meeting to assist the design professionals with conceptional citizen input into the design of the replacement of the Sgt. John Pinney Memorial Pool with the Sgt. John Pinney Memorial Aquatic Complex, and I was well impressed. 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. The Sgt. Pinney Memorial 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.

I spent nearly two decades coaching and officiating swim meets at the old Pinney Pool, which I observed in seven slides represents a lot more. The old Pinney Pool served the community well for more than four decades, yet it was a stand-alone minimal pool with a small office and roofless, non-heated changing rooms with one shower and toilet. We need to be more adequate when hosting 300 swimmers!

For the first time, those in attendance and those viewing in real-time online saw an attractive building complex situated to shield as much as possible the three-pool complex from the prevailing winds coming out of the southwest. The approximately 7,000-square-foot building includes a check-in area, administrative office, first aid room, lifeguard restroom/shower room, and men’s and women’s patron restrooms and shower rooms. A community room of approximately 800 square feet will share a “kitchen” with the concession area and feature sliding doors to the pools. Likely durable concrete block will be the building material of choice due to its availability and versatility of color and texture. The block will be treated to repel tagging.

The new complex will replace the old pool in the present location with a larger “footprint” by expanding onto the existing adjacent city-owned property, with room for future growth to the north toward the Senior Center. As a cost savings measure, parking will be adequate for typical use. More than adequate parking is available at the adjacent Kerr McGee Center for significant events, such as two-day youth swim meets. Although sufficient deck space will be onsite for a typical swim day, Freedom Park across Warner Street has abundant “day-camping” space. Safe crossing across Warner Street to the complex from Freedom Park is in the design phase.

Three pools are planned for the complex. The competition pool of eight lanes and two warm-up cool-down lanes will be deep to accommodate swim meets, water polo, and one-meter springboard diving. This pool will also serve as the hub for water safety instruction. A therapy and toddler pool are included in the preliminary design. The city is working with Southern California Edison on a Solar generation project to offset costs. The bleachers will be portable to provide flexibility in deck space. Due to liability concerns, no permanent slides are included in the design, yet inflatable features may be considered.

The $12 million to $13 million “Pinney Pool Aquatic Complex” project is made possible by Measure P, a one-cent sales tax increase passed on November 8, 2022, with 55.22% voter approval.  Preliminary physical surveys and studies of the site are underway. Demolition of the old pool is tentatively scheduled for December, with a groundbreaking in early 2024. Construction will take approximately one year; if all goes according to plan, the complex will open in the spring of 2025. The artist renderings are available on the city website.

In the end, I was encouraged by Mayor Bruen’s comments, “Burroughs will have a home pool and maybe a new sport, water polo.” Even more importantly, the mayor expressed confidence in the city’s promise to make this new aquatic complex a reality.

“A usable, functional, and happy place for the whole community.” But more than that, it will be our community’s economic, recruitment, and retention asset.