It’s a splashy start to a new decade in Burlingame, as city and high school district officials will celebrate reopening the new community pool that’s been closed for more than one year.

San Mateo Union High School District officials are hosting a celebration Wednesday, Jan. 8, cutting ribbon at Burlingame High School for the rebuilt facility owned by the school system but operated by the city when not occupied by students.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly lauded the opportunity to return the pool to service, following an extended stretch of closure while crews worked to fix faulty designs.

“We’re ready to welcome the new year in and swimmers and get the Burlingame Aquatic Club back in there using it, and returning it back to being the tremendous community asset it was,” he said.

Burlingame City Manager Lisa Goldman shared a similar perspective.

“We’re excited to have the facility up and running,” she said.

The new pool will feature 19 lanes, one less than the previous model because additional room was needed for some realignment, said Goldman. She added the new facility will be shallower than the older pool, as a diving pit was removed, which could help it run more efficiently.

The pool has been closed since summer 2018 when maintenance workers discovered structural flaws so severe that officials elected to rebuild the center rather than attempt to temporarily fix it.

School officials shouldered the upfront costs associated with getting the roughly $6.6 million project started, in an effort to get plans approved and move toward construction as soon as possible. City officials are required to pay $2.7 million, with an initial payment of $1.2 million.

Some members of the local swimming community had argued to avoid the sustained period of pool closure by advocating for temporary fixes rather than a full rebuild. But officials ultimately determined the cost of a new pool would be less than the variety of bills accumulated by applying patches which would likely be needed.

Once up and running, the district and city are expected to split evenly the maintenance and operations expenses. Following the first year of use, city and school officials will reconsider cost sharing expenses to determine a reasonable formula for addressing such costs in the future. Under a previous agreement, the city was paying 78% of the operational and maintenance costs.

Officials also extended the terms of the operating agreement from 2026 to 2040. By 2035, either party may seek to leave the agreement, at which point they would need to reimburse the partner agency for remaining costs.

Goldman noted the temporary loss of the pool has been especially difficult on the Burlingame Aquatic Club, which was forced to relocate programming to other local facilities.

She said the club endured the closure as well as it could, preserving a successful program for younger members. But additional service and membership must still be built back over the coming months and years.

“I appreciate the Burlingame Aquatic Club sticking with their kids programming throughout this time,” she said. “It’s been difficult throughout, but they are strong, they have great coaching and I’m sure they will be excited to get back in this pool.”

Skelly shared a similar perspective for Burlingame High School student athletes who were displaced by the closure, and forced to practice and swim elsewhere for long terms.

“We know the kids in Burlingame are excited about not having to be road warriors this season,” he said.

Goldman and Skelly also celebrated the collaborative initiative required by both agencies to assure the facility was rebuilt in the most efficient fashion.

“Nobody is happy when things aren’t what they should be,” said Skelly. “But I’m pleased the city and district worked so well together.

Goldman agreed, noting both sides of the arrangement pushed the effort forward once the rebuild started.

“Everybody was supportive of it once we finally agreed to the deal terms,” she said.

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