Whitmore Pool’s fate came right down to the wire on Wednesday.
It came as the Mammoth Lakes Town Council struggled to balance its 2011-12 budget.
If it was not a last-second reprieve, it was certainly a last-hour reprieve for advocates of the pool.
They will find the pool’s hours of operation the same; the water comfortable and inviting, just as swimmers there have known for many years.
The Town’s Recreation Department, which administers the pool, began the day standing to lose more than 30 percent of its budget – $83,000 – as the council struggled against a budget shortfall of $2.7 million.
“Something’s got to give,” said Stuart Brown in an interview that morning. “If you lose people, you lose services. If you lose services, you lose people. You can’t lose one without losing the other.”
Yet the council, in closed session one hour before opening to the public, took the proposed recreation cuts off the table.
It also took a phalanx of swimmers and recreation supporters by surprise, even as they crowded into the Council Chambers and filled it to maximum capacity.
The employees of the pool were there. So, too, were members of the Mammoth Sharks swim club. And so was Stacey Cook, Mammoth’s resident Olympic downhiller. Amateur swimmers and triathletes were cheek to jowl. Each of them had something to say.
Some of them offered poignant memories of their days at the pool.
Whitmore Pool is fed by natural hot springs. It has a 360-degree view of the Eastern Sierra.
The facility includes a six-lane, 25-meter pool, children’s wading pool, rest rooms, hot showers, lawn area, BBQ facilities and vending machines.
The pool is open from approximately mid-June through early September. There is a nominal fee per person.
On any given day people might see world-class athletes such as triathlete Chris Lieto training there, or Alana Levin, organizer of the June Lake Triathlon.
The pool was always included in the dream of creating a swimming-running-cycling complex. That, in turn has worked in tandem with fashioning Mammoth as a high-altitude training center.
But first the Whitmore Pool had to dodge a bullet.