Greyhound foundation begins to raise money for pool

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, which was founded in 1994 as a way to fund facilities and programs for Atascadero High School athletes, has taken on a new project as they have begun trying to raise money to potentially bring a new pool facility to Atascadero.

Over the years, the Greyhound Foundation has succeeded in many campaigns to improve the high school, including the coordination of the all-weather track, snack bar and restrooms that are at the high school today. The foundation also puts on several events that are big in the community like the Hares ‘N’ Hounds 5K fun run and the All-Comers meets that run throughout the summer.

To be clear, the foundation is not currently raising money for a pool, nor do they know if the high school will be getting a new pool or will continue to fix the one that they have.

The pool was out of commission three times this season and may not be able to be fixed, according to Atascadero boys varsity head coach Jon Conrad.

“We need a new pool, not just for swimming and polo,” Conrad said. “But for the city. Something that would serve the city and that the city would be proud of.”

The Greyhound Foundation has begun to raise money in order to plan a design of a pool and where it would go in hopes to get the ball rolling and that they might receive bond money from Proposition 51, Public School Facility Bonds. The school could receive matching funds from the state of California, according to AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler.

Prop 51 passed in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote in California to issue $9 billion to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools an community colleges.

“In any real estate development, the planning is about 10 percent of the cost but it takes around 50 or 60 percent of the time to get it done from just an idea to the building standing there,” said Max Zappas of Z Villages Management and Development, who is also developing La Plaza downtown. “So if we can get that time clock started now with the design process, since we only need 10 percent to get that done, that should be possible for us to raise that and get the plans in.”

According to sources close to the project, Zappas began discussions early in 2018 and brought the idea in front of the Atascadero school board. After some discussion, a group of individuals passionate about the project along with a section of the school board and Superintendent Butler made their way to Morro Bay High School to check out their new pool as an example of sorts. A few months later, the rest of the board reportedly made it to Morro Bay to also take a look at the new pool. According to published reports, the estimated construction cost of the Morro Bay pool was $6 million.

Near the end of 2018, Zappas and the Greyhound Foundation established the new leg of the Foundation in order to start raising money, and just last week they held their first fundraiser at Street Side Ale House where members of the public could come in and hear about the project in an open house setting. The three-hour event raised close to $13,000, according to Zappas.

Anyone that has lived in Atascadero for an extended period of time or who attended the high school knows the new pool discussion is not a new topic, but the action that is being taken in order to get one is. According to reports, there will be a committee formed in the early part of 2019 that will decide aspects of the pool like location, size and applications for it.

There are many applications of a new pool as many have come to realize due to the pool project going into Paso Robles. A pool that is available to the community could bring many services to Atascadero including swim lessons. According to the Red Cross, just four in 10 parents of children ages 4-17 report that their child can perform all five basic swimming skills, yet more than nine in 10 say their child is likely to participate in water activities.

As it is now, Atascadero High School students cannot host games in their pool even if they are the No. 1 seed in the state because of the shallow to deep pool they currently have. The water polo teams had to cancel practices on three different occasions this season due to pool-related issues and even held night practices in wetsuits in an attempt to stay warm but still keep pace with other teams in the area.

According to Butler, the school will be conducting research on the costs of operating the pool they currently have and looking at how much it would be to fix its problems. But in the end, school board trustees will decide what is to be done.

“I just want to help them make the best decision for the district,” he said.

According to sources, there are currently two spots where the new pool facility could go, the first one being right where it currently sits and the other being near the new tennis courts that are presently being constructed behind the visitor's bleachers at Memorial Stadium.

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