WESTMORLAND — Westmorland Parks and Recreation Director Xavier Mendez remembers as a kid riding his bike with friends to the Youth Center and to swimming at the pool during the hot days of summer.
It was just as hot back then as it is now, but a crucial piece of summer has been missing — the Westmorland pool. The pool has been closed for over five years due to heavy damage over the decades.
After five years of closure, the Westmorland public pool has been rebuilt, refurbished, and is ready for residents of the town to come swim.
The original pool was built in 1938 by the Naval Air Base thanks to the Works Progress Association (WPD) instituted by President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The pool was given new life after World War II; an annual “Aquacade” started and informal swimming lessons were taught by concerned community volunteers and parents. It was refurbished twice, in 1960 and 1985. Since then, nothing had been done to it and the pool was left to dry and crack in the sun.
With the pool closed, there were almost no cool, fun options for the children of Westmorland in the summer. It can be difficult for children to get transportation to the Brawley Lion’s Center pool. Some even turned to the dangerous canal not far from the park for a refreshing splash.
To curb that, the city began hosting annual Water Days, evenings where children and families could relax with water slides, food, and a movie. These were funded by the IID, according to Mendez, and were only held nine times during the summer.
Now that the pool is finished, Mendez says he is glad his children and others will be able to enjoy using it.
“Everyone is excited,” said Mendez. “My kids are excited to swim here, but man, the whole town is excited!”
The total cost of repairs, rebuilding, and refurbishing the Westmorland pool was $228,000. This included getting new water pumps, renovating the outside and inside of the pool, and adding lights for night swimming. Due to the extensive cracking, a layer of cement had to be added that leveled off the pool bottom. The pool used to drop from 2 ft to 8 ft, but it’s now 1½ ft to 6 ft.
The community had already been holding fundraisers thanks to Scott Marmon, a Westmorland native who currently lives in Washington. Marmon held an annual fundraiser every year with food and music to help with the costs of the pool restoration.
Mendez stated that it did help, but was only able to raise $11,000. Not until the Imperial Irrigation District and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors got involved was the work fully funded.
When the pool opens, it will provide a much-needed water option for the city. Mendez said there are already plans to use it for water aerobics, Zumba classes, and family movie nights. He added that the pool will be open to students in Westmorland’s summer school this year, much to the children’s delight at a recent school assembly. The pool will also be available for the public to rent for events and parties.
Mendez thanked Marmon, the IID, the board of supervisors, and the entire community of Westmorland for the efforts that were made to get the pool repaired and finished.
“The whole town is excited,” said Mendez. “I’m excited. I’m a kid at heart and I can’t wait to go swimming in the pool.”
The grand reopening of the Westmorland pool will be June 1 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.