Tulare dives in on larger, more expensive pool

Tulare Joint Union High School District votes to build 50-meter pool with 4-lane warm up pool, expecting help from the city with funding

TULARE – Tulare Joint Union High School (TJUSD) has decided to increase the size and cost of the proposed Mission Oak aquatics complex, sizing up from a 38-meter pool with an 8-lane warm-up pool at $9.7 million to a 50-meter pool with a 4-lane warm-up pool at $14.1 million.

TJUSD Superintendent Lucy Van Scyoc said the decision made at the Nov. 9 special meeting came based on community input and funding capacity. The plan also includes a technical education building, and the board plans to fund all of it with a combination of the general fund, ESSER grant funds, fundraising and collaboration with the city of Tulare.

The city has expressed interest in contributing to the Mission Oak aquatics complex, and in preliminary discussions of the use of its $18 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds has earmarked $500,000 for consideration toward the project. Tulare and TJUSD are in the process of working up an official terms sheet. Tulare city manager Marc Mondell said once the funding and terms between the two parties are ironed out, it will be brought back to council to see the full picture and vote.

At the Nov. 2 Tulare city council meeting, a large group of community members expressed their interest in the city helping fund the Mission Oak aquatics complex. Tulare resident Michaelpaul Mendoza was the first of many to address the council.

“[I want to] remind our city leaders of all the wonderful things our young people do and continue to do,” Mendoza said. “Investing in facilities such as this pool is an investment in our kids and our future.”

Tulare resident Mallory Korenwinder, who competed in Division I swimming at the University of Arizona for four years qualifying for the Olympic trials twice, said she’s been involved in swimming in Tulare her entire life. The NCAA all-American, seven-time valley champion came out in support of the Mission Oak aquatics complex.

“Those who know me know I’m not one to talk about my accomplishments in the pool, but I share all of that to show you that I’ve competed all over the United States in the best pools our nation has to offer, and they all have one common denominator: 50 meters,” Korenwinder said. “The benefits a 50-meter pool could bring to our little community are huge…with Tulare being centrally located and right off of the highway, we could host [championship club meets] possibly bringing in more teams. This could generate huge revenue for the club team, the school district and the city with hotels, restaurants and shopping.”

Currently, TJUSD’s three comprehensive high schools share two pools. Van Sycoc said this has made it difficult for their 12 water polo teams to have access to a pool. Mission Oak’s water polo and swimming teams currently rotate between using the Tulare Union and Tulare Western pools. She said an aquatics complex at Mission Oak would eliminate the traveling for the Mission Oak teams and also allow swimming to be incorporated into the physical education classes at Mission Oak.

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