Val Verde Pool down, community programs in transition  

Val Verde Pool. 052224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Local officials discussed some tough hits for Val Verde at a meeting last week, announcing the planned closure of the community’s pool and the loss of a well-liked community program. 

Mark Glassock, manager of the Capital Projects Group for the county Department of Parks and Recreation, delivered the update regarding the community pool at the Castaic Area Town Council’s May 15 meeting. 

“Unfortunately, I’m coming to this meeting with bad news,” he said, “we will not be opening the Val Verde Pool for this summer season.” 

And then came the worse news. 

“And it will be closed indefinitely,” he said, referring to the county’s need to analyze the scope of work necessary, as well the funding for the new price tag. 

The park usually opens about two weeks after school lets out, according to park staff on duty Wednesday. The pool is not currently operational, and they referred questions to county officials.  

“Safety comes first, so I support L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation’s decision to not re-open the pool so that they can thoroughly investigate and repair it,” L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger wrote in an emailed statement Wednesday. “I want the community to know the county is committed to finding the quickest path towards making the pool once again available. In the meantime, I’m hopeful the free shuttle service to the Castaic Aquatic Center will be helpful and used by the public.” 

Glassock called the decision both painful and easy at the advisory council’s virtual meeting. 

While the park is “near and dear to our hearts,” he said, county staff had found some “very concerning issues” with the pool and its support structure. 

Oshea Orchid, who represents Val Verde on the Town Council, recognized the loss but also understood the move. 

“The closure of the pool is a huge impact on the community but is clearly necessary to make sure the facility is safe,” she said in a message Wednesday. She mentioned at the meeting the community is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary later this year, and it would have been nice to be able to use the pool as a part of that. 

The discovery was made while staff were making improvements to the lighting structure — adding underwater lighting and deck lighting for night swimming. Large underground voids were found in the concrete under the pool deck.  

Essentially, in places where there was supposed to be compacted soil or concrete, it was “completely washed out and hollow,” Glassock said. 

Calling it a very significant concern, he said, workers found the problems everywhere they tested. They’re also believed to be recent, having developed within the past year, Glassock added, sharing speculation that it could have been related to cracks found in the pool. 

The tradition of the community pool in Val Verde predates the current Parks Department, he said.  

A December 1938 report in The Signal congratulated the Val Verde community, largely on the “magnificent” new swimming pool that was on its way. It was being built at a reported cost of $100,000 — approximately $2.2 million in today’s dollars, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator. 

The facility underwent major reconstruction after the January 1994 earthquake, but the recent discovery has left the stability of the pool in question until more work is done. 

Glassock also referred to the park’s significance in the area’s “largely unwritten history,” referring to the community’s status starting in the mid-1920s as a “Black Palm Springs” of the era.  

He would like to see the redesign reconsider this historical past, he added, with a potential reshaping to restore its “original character.” 

Orchid said the upcoming centennial also represented a chance to bring it back to its original glory, as an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and maybe add a shade structure.  

Glassock laid out a potentially lengthy timeline for repairs expected to begin with a geotechnical study for the rebuilding and, at some point, community meetings. 

In the meantime, county staff is working on a program to shuttle would-be swimmers from the pool to the Castaic Sports Complex for its Everybody Swims program. He also said he knew the shuttle program was not a replacement, but the safety concerns left the county without a choice. 

The funding for the future of repairs was also discussed. 

Glassock said the county had $520,000 set aside for the night-light system. 

“We do have some resources available to lay the groundwork for that plan,” he said, in reference to the necessary renovations, adding the new costs are expected to be significantly more. 

Deputy Cynthia Ortiz, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station zone leader for the Castaic area, in the course of giving her updates at the meeting, said the station would no longer be participating in the Youth Activities League at Val Verde Park, the only place it’s offered in the SCV. 

The YAL is an after-school program that provides the community’s youth with a place to go and safe activities in an area that doesn’t have a lot of traditional community resources.  

The popular community program was being cut due to a personnel shortage at the station, she said. 

There still will be a patrol unit stationed in the area, she said at the May 15 meeting, but it would be a new deputy in the future who would be strictly operating a patrol unit. 

She also mentioned the Boys & Girls Club programs were expected to be available as a community resource in the time being. 

“This summer, Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley will be partnering with L.A. County Parks & Rec to deliver the county’s E-STEAM summer camp,” said Matt Nelson, president of the local club, in a text Wednesday evening. “The program is fun and educational, consisting of themed weeks and field trips. Thanks to Supervisor Kathryn Barger, it is free to Val Verde residents. We’re excited to partner and provide an enriching summer experience to Val Verde’s youth.”

Val Verde Park is located at 30300 Arlington St. 

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