Tag Archives: Chico swimming pools

Why has CARD neglected Shapiro Pool? Why would Laura Urseny say “there’s not much hope” when it can be rebuilt for less than a million dollars?

27 Sep

Chico Area Recreation District board heard a report from local pool builder James Dougherty on the condition of Shapiro Pool.  Shapiro Pool was built on school district property at Chico Junior High, but has been run by CARD for the last 20 or so years, not sure when CARD took over.

This report is a story of neglect. The things Dougherty has listed are all items that should have been included on an annual maintenance schedule, and kept up to date. There are building code, public health violations that have been going on untended for about 25 years. They have done nothing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act – apparently most CARD facilities are not ADA compliant, they’ve only recently spent $60,000 on a consultant to tell them how to get ADA compliant. 

ADA was first passed in 1990. There is absolutely no excuse for a public recreation agency like CARD to ignore the law.

Worse – right in the beginning of his report, Dougherty casually mentions that he was handed another consultant’s report from 2009. This was all reported in 2009 and NOTHING was done. 

If you want to read the full report, you will have to ask Willman for a copy – she did not send me a copy I could share or a link. You can reach Ann Willman at annw@chicorec.com

The good news – and we all knew this –

  • the pool is big enough to accommodate local demand
  • the pool, deck, and surrounding grass areas are large enough to accommodate competitive swim meets

But here’s where everything goes downhill – 

  • the pool itself has features that are out-of-date and do not comply with current standards – such as gutters that make ” entry and exit difficult for children and mature adults.”  
  • the lights are inadequate for night swimming
  • the deck is cracked and that causes trip hazards – substandard patches have been made that exacerbate the situation
  • the pool plaster has deteriorated and there are sharp edges where metal has been exposed
  • they took out the diving board at some point but not properly, and now the remaining hardware “presents a trip hazard.”

Things were already going downhill 20 years ago when I took my kids to Shapiro Pool one day. The place was awful, the staff was awful, the kids there were out of control. The place got vandalized a  lot because it was obvious nobody cared about it, including CARD or the school district.

But here’s things I have only suspected:

1. The two pools have different loads during swim lessons, lap swimming and public swim sessions and CHSC and NISPS call for two separate recirculaüon and watertreatment systems. There is only one circulation system for both activity areas with equalizer lines connecting the two pools.

2.The pool re-circulation system is undersized to handle the flow per CHSC* FPSSR and FPSSA.

3. The bottom drains are undersized to meet current CHSC, FPSSA, and NISPS.

4. Thousands of gallons of heated, chlorinated, pH adjusted, alkalinity adjusted, calcium hardness flows through the gutters weekly, so the pool water level is normally kept below the gutter line and the code required skimming action is, for the most part, nonexistent. 

5. The chemical control is adequate, although staff reports some issues with tracking chlorine and maintaining desired chlorine levels, requiring frequent staff


6. The chlorine and acid feed pumps are of adequate size to handle the volume of the pool and the load.  The chemical feed lines are not double contained per current UFC ART 80 and OSHA standards

7. The chlorine and acid barrels are st01ed in such a way as to not meet current UFC and OSHA standards.

8. The steel high-rate sand filters keep up with the demand by patrons, however, is somewhat undersized to handle die six hour turnover flow rate called for by CHSC and NSIPS. In addition, this type of filter requires considerable backwashing time, using many more treated water gallons to clean the filter than do state-of-the-art sand filters. In addition, the backwash discharge plumbing does not have the CHCS and NSIPS “air gap clearance” above the backwash pit. 

9.  The heater is of conventional gas-fired, standard efficiency (75-78%)  It does not meet current “LowNox” air standards. 

Dougherty has included cost estimates. He says we could get Shapiro fixed up as good as new for about $568,000.  Compared to the millions they are asking to build their Taj Majal aquatic center, that’s peanuts. 

Here’s my guess – the CARD board isn’t really thinking about a swimming pool, they’re thinking they need to get a bond on our homes to pay down their pension obligation. 

Ann Willman has been telling the skateboard group she’s short of money and staff – well, that didn’t stop her from taking about a $10,000 increase over Steve Visconti’s salary.


Willman pays NOTHING toward her benefits and pension package, we pay $24,000/year to keep her in stretch pants for the rest of her life.

While you are at that website, look at Durham rec district, which has a budget of about $300,000/year, compared to CARD’s $5 million plus budget. They spend about $35,000 a year covering their employees, who must pay toward their own packages because the dollar amounts listed wouldn’t get you into Oroville Hospital.  Their pool – only one of their very nice amenities –  is in excellent condition, hosts swim meets. They even train lifeguards for CARD. Their director only makes $63,000 a year, and he has less employees to help do the work.  

People actually drive from Chico to swim at Durham’s pool. That’s called “leakage”. 

I’m going to ask Willman, what is CARD’s unmet pension liability? I’ll get back with her answer.