Anguish and outrage: Henderson Rd. Easter Seals Pool abruptly closed
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: August 21, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
As of Friday the Easter Seals pool on Henderson Road was no more, a move that created anguish and outrage among its clients and supporters. The nonprofit Easter Seals Aquatic Center’s pool was part of the Tri-Counties organization that earlier this year merged with the Southern California group.
When the merger occurred in March an Easter Seals spokeswoman said the pool would be updated through a fundraising campaign. That announcement came years after a then-Easter Seals of the Tri-Counties spokesperson said the property would eventually be sold.
The pool, kept at 94 degrees, served the disabled and also offered child therapy and child development at the three-acre Saticoy site, as well as public use for a fee. The pool opened in the late 1960s.
According to a written Easter Seals’ statement, “After much careful consideration Easter Seals made the very difficult decision that we will no longer offer aquatic services,” as the pool “was in a state of disrepair. When reviewing all of our options closure was the only choice - especially in light of the fact that warm water aquatic therapy, swim lessons, and recreational/exercise swimming are available in the local community at the wonderful Ventura YMCA. We think this is a better option.”
Spokeswoman Kimberly Cohn also wrote, “For individuals who used our aquatic services it was very important that they be able to continue to have access to aquatic therapy, swim lessons and recreational swimming.” Easter Seals collaborated with the Ventura YMCA “in helping our clients transition to the YMCA’s aquatic services.”
Cohn wrote that Easter Seals will “continue to focus on our mission as a disability services provider in the region. We will continue to provide medical rehabilitation therapy and autism services in the tri-county area, as well as operate our child development center in Ventura.... We appreciate your support and look forward to continuing to serve the community.”
It is estimated that with the closure of the pool about a dozen Easter Seals employees were laid off.
The 60 feet long, 24 feet wide pool was from three feet to five feet deep and also offered a fibromyalgia aquatic exercise program, among other activities. In March 2005, the last time pool finances were publicized, revenue for the pool was about $460,000, short of its annual operating cost of more than $500,000.
The pool was popular with Santa Paulans, some who had been paying customers since the pool opened close to 40 years ago. Many saw it as a convenient destination for exercise, while others had physical therapy that was conducted at the pool. All enjoyed the socializing and friendships developed at the pool.
Several residents are resentful the pool was closed without any warning or attempts to keep it open: “It was so fast, we were told boom! It’s closing Friday... I was in tears, the staff was in tears,” said a Santa Paula resident, who asked to speak off the record.
Making the announcement so close to shutting down the pool, said the client, “was calculated. Easter Seals can give any excuse they want, but they didn’t want to keep the pool open... they could have if they tried. But now it’s gone.”