While city officials continue efforts at addressing staffing issues at the Palm Springs Swim Center, another team is hard at work making the aging facility a bit more user-friendly. Tuesday, the public got its first look at their initial ideas.
Driving the news: On Tuesday evening, an architect and designer working on changes to the 50-year-old facility were on hand during an open house for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department at Demuth Community Center. Of the dozen or so booths set up in the gym, theirs saw a steady stream of residents.
At issue: Maria Song, principal architect at Palm Springs-based Interactive Design Corporation, and Carlos Zepeda, a designer at the firm, said issues of accessibility are the primary focus of a reconfiguration that’s just now emerging from an initial design phase.
- Of particular concern is access for pool visitors who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices who, with the assistance of Swim Center staff, must navigate a circuitous route as they try to reach the pool deck.
- “It’s a maze,” Song said as she explained how the current configuration, with floors at multiple levels, will be leveled, and ramps will be added that don’t require some visitors to be ushered through staff work areas and adjacent locker rooms.
Zoom in: Also planned is a more inviting entrance. Where visitors to the Swim Center, including those in large groups attending swim meets, must currently squeeze through an opening about the width of one door, Zepeda and Song envision an “arrival court,” complete with a better view of the facility, with a much wider entryway.
- “We’re trying to give it a front door,” Song said. “It needs better curb appeal.”
What they’re saying: Richard Mignault, a coach with the Palm Springs Masters Swim team who got his first look at the initial designs Tuesday evening, applauded the efforts to address what he and others had called deplorable conditions at the pool that were leading to the facility’s “downward spiral.” He also credited the firm working on the redesign with being open to listening to suggestions.
- “A few small tweaks will make a big difference, especially when it comes to the operation issues,” Mignault said after discussing the initial plans with Zepeda. “They’ve shown some good solutions for addressing the ADA side of things. The demographics of our city are getting older, so addressing the ADA issues is important. Now is the time to make those changes.”
Bottom line: Song agreed the facility is long overdue for improvements. While an initial section was constructed in the 1970s, an addition was made in the 1980s. Now, she said, “It’s time to unclog what was done in the ’80s.”
- “This needs to be an investment that will stand for another 50 years,” she added. “We can’t just do a Band-Aid solution.”