Why Fremont doesn’t have swimming pools

I still think Kathy McDonald is correct to find it strange that there aren’t any public swimming pools in Fremont.

But now I know why.

The year was 1961. Fremont held a special Nov. 21 municipal bond election.
One of the proposals was $140,000 “for building swimming pools.”

Exactly 6,100 people cast ballots, and the vote was 54.4 percent to 45.6 percent against swimming pools.

So there you have it: The people have spoken. No swimming pools for Fremont.

Matt Artz


  1. Matt,

    That was 1961. Now it is 2010. How come the City did not take any initiative for the last 50 years to add extra swimming pools in different districts since Fremont is a large city.

  2. The Water Park seems like a success in Fremont. Hey Matt, can you post that awesome photo of the old geezers going down the water slide? Paleeeze? 😉

  3. In the 80’s, we prepared prliminary plans for a swim center in Central Park. The plans still exist, but the funding required then was $29 million. Not available.

    Later, we shared the cost of a pool at American HS, with the provision it be available non school hours to the public. No idea how that is working.

    FWIW, pools are very expensive to operate and maintain and it is very difficult to charge enough fees to make them work.

  4. MZ, you’re right, it’s not 1961. In 1961 mom was a homemaker and would take the kids to the pool for the entire day. Now mom works 35 miles from home and the kids are in day care.

    There are community pools in Fremont. Our neighborhood has one. On any given summer day there may be a handful of people using it, but only if the outside temp is above 80 degrees. We have great weather, but not the steamy, sultry summers of the East Coast that have you begging for a body of water.

    Gus is right. They are costly to operate and maintain as our homeowners’ association can attest, i.e. repairs, utilities, etc.

  5. The new waterpark has a pool. Can it simply made available to the public year-round?

  6. Sweeping generalizations being passed around here so I’ll toss a few more into the mix.

    The “fees” charged for MOST public facilities – parks, meeting rooms, etc., – rarely cover the actual costs involved. . . . so, it would seem that this is an argument that we’ve already demonstrated as not possessing any merits for many public services.

    There are loads of public swim facilities in neighboring cities which do quite well (they have sufficient utilization by the community to warrant keeping their doors open) . .. so based on the experiences of nearby communities, we might infer that weather is not a gating factor.

    Finally, 40 years ago when I spent many (summer) days at the local public swimming pool (or “Y”) – – the apartment dwellers and their pools were, as VOR points out – also largely under-utilized, and for the same reason they remain under-utilized today, I surmize.

    There’s a big difference between a staffed and managed public facility and unstaffed pools which require mom or pop to be in constant attendance.

    P.S. – IF you want to focus on economics as the qualifier, the opportunity was/is to combine pump/filtration and other op-ex already rationalized for the waterslide to service a public lap pool operating in concert. . . economics would be very different than a standalone facility.

    I’m not as big a fan of the swimming pool idea as some . . . but my main point is that many of the arguments, with the exception of Gus’ availability of construction financing, presented herein feel weak at best (and for reasons stated).

  7. “There are loads of public swim facilities in neighboring cities which do quite well (they have sufficient utilization by the community to warrant keeping their doors open)…” Bbox if you are referring to Newark’s Silliman Center, it is my understanding it is not generating sufficient revenue at present and it’s an indoor facility.

  8. In it’s heyday, the swim lagoon at Central Park was a good public swimming area.

  9. Andrew, you gotta admit it got pretty gross at times though!

  10. Ishan,

    If you are 18 and I’m 32, then I was 16 when you were born. The “heyday” of which I speak; the ‘golden age’ if there was one, was at least 6 years before that.

    Sorry to play the age card (again), but it’s long term perspective that’s needed.

    Also: The lagoon was always meant to replicate a natural swimming area, closer in spirit to a town swimming lake than a town swimming pool. Swimming pools are ‘not gross’ only because of chemicals and concrete.

  11. Not that I’m trying to defend the young whippersnapper, Ishan, he can handle himself, but Andrew, the lagoon was pretty gross.

    And I’m in my mid-thirties so it was late 70s early 80s when I was there.

    I think more in the community would use the water park regularly if a) it wasn’t so darn expensive and b) it was open another month or two. This year being an exception, our warmest months are August, September and October. The water park closes in Sept.

  12. Come on VOR

    – – – the question about whether or not these things PAY for themselves based on gate receipts had nothing to do with WHERE they were located – – – I originally agreed that most public swim facilities dont PAY FOR THEMSELVES based on their gate receipts – – nor do parks or rec centers for that matter . . . . but we keep on includin’ them in our city designs, dont we ?

    The comparison to nearby facilities was in reference to the question about weather – – – – which, for nearby communities is presumably very nearly the same as ours and which, based on the choices of these other nearby cities – – does NOT appear to be a constraint on their decision to build these kinds of facilities . .. .

    SHEESH !

    Along with Silliman there is also –



  13. Jen your right about our warmest months, but as soon as school starts the family focus shifts from water activities to other things. Loss of daylight is also an inhibiting factor. Let’s face it, water parks have a niche market.

  14. I never said it wasn’t gross.

    I only said that gross was natural and that the lagoon was designed to emulate a more natural swimming “hole.” That is was never meant to be crystal, chlorine clear.

    The lagoon was also pretty cheap, unlike the water park, as you already mention.

    And are one’s mid-thirties and 32 such a great age difference as to warrant mentioning?

  15. The way I read it, the proposal was for building pools and the majority 54.4% voted for it. How much of a majority is required to pass?

  16. 54 percent voted no on swimming pools. A simple majority was needed for passage.

  17. Bbox, don’t take it personally. I wasn’t questioning or doubting your comments, just adding to them.

  18. You can tell how badly Box wants to “correct” someone by his use of ellipses. He must have strongly disagreed with your post, VOR.

  19. One of the many good points Kathy McDonald brings up. Your historical note highlights the need to revisit this issue, almost 50 after such a no vote. Imagine the economic boost Fremont could enjoy being a state-of-the-art sports center people would travel to year round. All it takes is innovative ideas, new and enlightened leadership, and an informed population. My hopes are high for Nov. 2nd.

  20. I don’t think we need a pool so much as we need a water feature. I run a local playgroup for the tri-city area and we were having to go as far as hayward and dublin to visit a park with a water feature… and this year, as soon as it actually got warm, all the parks were closed on weekdays(including quarry lakes). The dream park could have easily included a nice water feature… any of the park improvement could have. If Hayward can build a new park for this purpose, Fremont should be able to as well.

  21. Meant to also add the “best-cities-to-live-in” quality of life / health factors. Maybe a joint venture between private/corporate interests and public would do, and not just swimming facilities, but other sports as well, which could attract other related health-oriented and entertainment/leisure-oriented business. Why not look at the possibilities here & share some city success stories, so we have some good models to look at?

  22. Leanne: the “Always Dream” playground on Stevenson near Gallaudet has mist sprayers and a sand play area with a faucet and a water play table. Not a full-fledged stomp around in the water place, but the kids can get wet and sandy at least 🙂

  23. Leanne, could you elaborate on what you envision when you say “water feature?” Is the water park not a water feature?

  24. Re posts 18 and 19 –

    Unclear as to how either of these contribute to this topic – – other than to redirect attention to that of personality traits . . for whatever reason.

  25. Bruce, yea we’ve visited it and those features are nice… just not quite that same as letting the kids really get wet! 🙂

    VOR: A water feature is typically sprayers or sprinklers, or something else incorporated into a regular playground. Birch Grove in Newark has a water feature, unfortunately it wasn’t turned on this year due to budget cuts. The one section at the water park next to the food stand with the rubber ground is a “water feature”. The water park is nice, but it’s simply too expensive! I understand the expense of such an undertaking needs to be paid for, but it’s just not practical for my single-income family except maybe once a year.

    Again, I understand it all costs money! Just surprised with how large Fremont is that we never built one.

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