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Construction of a new facility to replace the Emma Hood Swim Center, which Alameda High School (AHS) shares with the City, is scheduled to start in the spring of 2024. The existing swim center does not meet code requirements and has suffered years of maintenance issues. Consequently, the Measure B School Bond and the City are funding its replacement. Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) and the City met on October 25 to update the community on the new design and solicit feedback.
Upgrading the swim center
The updated swim center will include the following:
- Main pool: 12 lanes, 25 yards
- Practice pool: 4 lanes, 25 yards
- New pool deck with lighting and storage
- Moveable bleachers
- One-meter diving board
- All new pool equipment
- Deck-mounted showers
- New fence
The main pool, with a maximum depth of 12 feet 6 inches, will be for swimming, diving, physical education classes, and water polo. Two water polo teams can practice at the same time. The pool will meet all requirements for swim meets and water polo competitions. Timing systems can plug into all four sides of the pool.
The practice pool, with a maximum depth of 4 feet 6 inches and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access, will be used for swim lessons and practice as well as an array of recreational aquatics programs, such as aqua fitness and “parent and me” classes.
A new tennis court will replace the existing one, which is being displaced to make room for the larger pools. The total number of tennis courts will not change.
The pool building will not be remodeled, and the existing parking and bike rack will not be affected.
During the design process, AUSD and the City have held multiple meetings with AUSD swim coaches and City staff.
During public comment, one tennis coach who said he represented other tennis coaches and parents noted that while swim coaches were consulted, tennis coaches were not. The coach asked where spectators would watch tennis games as it appeared that tennis bleachers were being removed. He also argued that while all this new construction was happening, it would be an opportune time to install a new water station, electrical access for ball machines, and backboard, and to resurface the tennis courts. He suggested that since the pools were getting deck lighting, court lighting would be appreciated as well.
He pleaded for the tennis shed to be relocated rather than replaced. He noted the existing shed had benefited from donations and Eagle Scout projects, and contained the signatures of previous players as a commemoration. Finally, he asked why the tennis courts couldn’t be made available to the community during the summer as are the swimming pools.
An architect from Carducci Associates thanked the coach for these comments, saying they were extremely helpful and would inform their design update. He expected to find room to relocate the tennis shed and install a water station and electrical outlet related to the new tennis court. He wasn’t sure about the bleachers due to space constraints, but said he would consider all the requests and aim to accommodate as much as possible.
One public commenter asked what the differences would be between the Encinal High swim center and the updated AHS swim center. The architect responded that the new main pool at AHS would have more lanes and deep water. Similarly, the practice pool would be both deeper and larger. There would also be deck lighting.
Carducci Associates expects to complete construction drawings by January 2024 and to receive approval from the Division of the State Architect in the spring. The City and AUSD expect the AHS pools to be ready in spring 2025.
Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at https://linktr.ee/karinkjensen and https://alamedapost.com/Karin-K-Jensen.