With construction of Palisades Charter High School’s Maggie Gilbert Aquatic Center well under way, community members want to know what hours the pool will be available for public use. Jeanne Goldsmith, a consultant PaliHi hired to fundraise for the pool, told the Palisadian-Post on Monday that the school definitely plans to offer free public swimming on Sundays once the pool opens next March. ’Our aim is to have [the pool available] all day,’ Goldsmith said, but PaliHi may rent out the entire pool for part of the day to aquatic user groups such as swim and water-polo teams. ’We have to make this pool self-sustaining,’ Goldsmith said, stressing that the school will not use taxpayer money from its general fund to construct or operate the pool. Private donors have contributed $3 million of the necessary $4.3 million to build the 12-lane competitive pool and adjacent two-lane teaching pool, Goldsmith said. Ninety-year-old English teacher Rose Gilbert has donated $2 million of that money toward the center, located at the corner of Temescal Canyon Road and Bowdoin Street and named after her late daughter. Once the pool is built, Goldsmith said the annual operating cost is projected to be roughly $375,000. School leaders, however, expect to bring in about $500,000 annually by renting the pool to aquatic user groups during non-school hours. The surplus will be set aside for maintenance and repairs. Aquatic user groups can secure time from 5 to 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as all day on Saturdays and part of the day on Sundays during the school year, Goldsmith said. The pool will be available all day during the summer and on holidays. School leaders envision setting aside dedicated lanes for the public to swim at the same time aquatic user groups are in the pool, Goldsmith said. The pool could also be made available to the public during non-school hours when aquatic user groups have not secured time. PaliHi is currently negotiating with aquatic user groups and finalizing rates, Goldsmith said. The groups will be required to secure their own insurance and lifeguards, while the school will provide lifeguards for public swim. The schedule will be released before the pool opens next spring and will be posted quarterly at the pool site and on PaliHi’s Web site (palihigh.enschool.org), Goldsmith said. Westside Aquatics, a Los Angeles swim team for all ages, has contributed financially to the construction of the pool and has already secured a certain number of lanes from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Other than Sundays, the public will have to pay a nominal fee. PaliHi is selling five-year passes for immediate families of any size for $1,500. The school will soon offer five-year individual passes and annual family/individual passes. So far, construction is moving along smoothly. ‘We are on time, and we are feeling very positive about it,’ Goldsmith said. Goldsmith is in the process of writing grants for additional funding to construct a concrete wall on Temescal Canyon Road that would serve as a sound barrier and conceal the pool from street view. The area will also be landscaped to look attractive. She is also trying to secure an additional $125,000 in order for the pool to be solar-heated. In addition to Gilbert’s $2 million, the majority of the money raised so far has come from PaliHi parents, teachers and alumni, Goldsmith said. ’We would love for the Palisades community to step up and help us,’ she said.
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