Palisadians Protest Temescal Pool Closure

About 100 Pacific Palisades residents hold hands around the Temescal Canyon pool on Saturday to protest the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
About 100 Pacific Palisades residents hold hands around the Temescal Canyon pool on Saturday to protest the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer
Chanting
Chanting “Save Our Pool,” Palisadians of all ages march from the corner of Temescal Canyon Road and Sunset Boulevard to Temescal Pool on Saturday morning.
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

Pacific Palisades resident Judith Springer learned to swim at the pool in Temescal Canyon in 1972. Resident Lawrence Kaplan, met his wife, Ann, there in 1981 and later watched their son participate on the Palisades Charter High School’s swim team. ‘This pool has been a tremendous part of my life,’ said Springer, who swam daily until a year ago. ‘It’s a terrible loss.’ Kaplan and Springer were among 100 Pacific Palisades residents who gathered at Temescal Gateway Park last Saturday morning to protest the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s recent action to fill in the pool with gravel and dirt. The Palisades-Malibu YMCA had operated the pool until last February, at which time the facility was closed for repairs estimated to cost $400,000. In December, the Conservancy board decided to develop a long-term plan for Temescal Gateway Park before possibly offering a new pool lease. Citing liability concerns, the Conservancy decided to fill in the empty pool for the interim and use the area for picnicking. Crews began work on January 8, and the pool is now filled in and covered with grass. Friends of the Temescal Pool, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reopening the pool as soon as possible, coordinated Saturday’s protest. The organization has filed a lawsuit against the Conservancy and its partner, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, asking the court to order the Conservancy to negotiate a pool lease, pay to repair the pool, and make the park fully accessible to the disabled. The organization contends that the land was purchased with Proposition A funding, which is partly intended to create recreational facilities for senior citizens. According to the lawsuit, ‘The pool was the only part of Temescal Gateway Park that was open and accessible for recreation use by many handicapped and senior citizens of the community.’ The pool was handicapped accessible and the YMCA offered rehabilitation programs. Friends of Temescal Pool also argues that by filling in the pool, the Conservancy violated its contract agreement with the Presbyterian Synod, which sold the land to the state agency in 1994. On Saturday, protesters marched under gray skies, from the YMCA property at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Temescal Canyon Road to the pool, carrying ‘Save the Pool’ signs and wearing matching purple T-shirts. Some of the residents made the trek in wheelchairs, while others used canes. Nine-year-old Allegra Smith, a fourth-grader at Corpus Christi, wore bright-pink swimming goggles and carried a homemade sign. She had learned to swim at the pool. The group chanted, ‘Save Our Pool,’ and sang to the tune of ‘This Land is Your Land’ by Woody Guthrie, ‘This park is our park, we paid our taxes. We’d like the pool back, despite their axes. They filled the pool up, but we won’t shut up. This park is here for everyone.’ Friends of the Temescal Pool co-founders John Yeh and Ilene Cassidy led the rally. ‘Keep the faith; we are not going away,’ Yeh said. ‘We are going to get the pool back.’ Resident Michelle O’Neill read a poem that she wrote about the camaraderie among the women swimmers. ‘We talk about our children, husbands, wives and tea; We talk about the war and cops and all the misery; We talk about the sky and God, Jung, Freud and entropy ‘ We are the YMCA outdoor pool; Palisadians, Topangalites, women all shampooed,’ she said. Then, all of the residents joined hands outside the currently locked and gated pool area. ‘I think the Conservancy has yet to give us a good reason for why the pool should not be here,’ said Emmy Funke, a 36-year resident and a master swimmer. ‘It seems like a no-brainer; it benefited so many people.’