Alameda Pool FAQ

1. Why does the Emma Hood pool need to be replaced or repaired?

The Emma Hood Swim Center, which is located at Alameda High School (AHS) and is 65 years old, has been in disrepair for some time. The Alameda County Department of Environmental Health Department (ACDEH) first issued a notice of closure due to public safety and code violation concerns in 2010. Since then, AUSD, the City, ACDEH, and Aquatic Design Group have met repeatedly to develop solutions to the many problems afflicting the pool, but the overall problem remains that it is an old facility in need of a significant rehabilitation or replacement.

In 2019, the ACDEH issued a Notice of Health Concerns to AUSD about the condition of the pool. The agency is allowing the pool to stay open until the end of May so that the AHS water polo team can use it to complete its season. After the season ends, however, the pool needs to be closed until it is repaired, replaced, or removed. 

2. What are the problems with the pool?

The two pools have a number of problems, with the most significant ones being:

  1. Refinishing the plaster in the dive pool.
  2. Addressing an air leak that affects the required water turnover rate so the water is safe for users.
  3. Repairing areas of concern on the concrete pool deck to address safety and ADA issues.

Outside of the repair issues, the pool is only 25 yards long, and the facility is not big enough or deep enough for California Interscholastic Federation swim or water polo meets.

3. Who uses the pool?

AUSD holds its swim, dive and water polo practices at the pool. The Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) also runs spring and summer programs at the pool. The largest users are the local swim clubs and teams, including the Alameda Gators, Alameda Aquatic Masters Swim Team, and Neptunes Water Polo for youth and adults.

4. Who is responsible for maintaining the pool?

The pool used to be operated and maintained by the City of Alameda, with the District paying half the maintenance cost. In 2016, AUSD took over the maintenance and operations and the two agencies continue to share the roughly $140,000 it takes to run and keep the pools in good repair.

5. What are the City and AUSD doing about the pool?

In February, the City of Alameda and AUSD set up a joint ad hoc committee to discuss the Emma Hood Swim Center. The committee members include the Mayor, Vice Mayor, two Board of Education members, AUSD’s CBO, the AHS Principal, EJSHS Athletic Director, an AHS student representative, the Interim Assistant City Manager, and representatives from ARPD and Alameda’s aquatics community.

Staff from both AUSD and the City have been addressing the short-term repair plan and will have confirmation from ACDEH on this repair scope by mid-May.  The committee has been developing a long-term plan for a new City aquatic center for presentation to both the Board of Education and City Council. School district staff provided an update to the Board of Education on May 14. City staff provided an update on May 7 and will provide another update on May 21. 

6. Where would the new swim center be located?

The ad hoc committee considered 10 options for a new swim center, including the current location at Alameda High School, Thompson Field, Alameda Point, and the former Lum Elementary School campus. After considering factors such as parking, traffic, community impact, size, infrastructure, student access, and time needed to complete the project, the committee narrowed the options to the current Emma Hood location with an expanded footprint or Thompson Field, with the latter being less desired.  The committee was clear that no other sports would be disrupted and if Thompson Field were chosen, it would be a longer timeline until a new field is built elsewhere. The City Council is also considering other city-owned locations at its May 21 meeting.  There will be a broad community engagement effort before the location decision is finalized.  

7. What will be included in the swim center?

Although no final decision has been made, the ad hoc committee has reached consensus that the following elements would be desirable:

  1. 30 to 50 meter competition pool for swimming, diving, and water polo
  2. 25-yard pool that can be used for practice, warm up, swim lessons, and recreational swimming and would include a “zero depth entry” area that is helpful for seniors, ADA access, and young children
  3. “splash zone” for children
  4. multi-purpose room for trainings, work out area, and birthday parties
  5. lighting for evening programming
  6. modernized lockers and seatingsnack bar and picnic area 

8. If Emma Hood Swim Complex closes due to health and safety issues or to be rebuilt, where will people swim?

ARPD summer swim lessons and activities are already scheduled to be at Encinal Swim Center. Emma Hood Swim Center will be closed this summer for short-term repairs. All swim programs – including Masters, ARPD swim lessons, lap and rec swims, and non-profit community youth programs – will be held at the Encinal Swim Center until Emma Hood re-opens in the fall. (Any questions about scheduling or ARPD programs can be directed to Dennis McDaniels, ARPD Recreation Supervisor, at 510-747-7586 or dmcdaniels@alamedaca.gov.

If the pool closes permanently due to either health and safety concerns or reconstruction during the school year, the new pool at Encinal Jr. and Sr. High School can accommodate both the Encinal and Alameda High programs. The district would need to improve lighting so that the teams can practice past dark. Community groups and ARPD summer programming would also be scheduled at Encinal Swim Center when space is available.