Rehab swimming pool needs county's help

January 14, 2009 3:10:43 PM PST
A group of Santa Clara County citizens Tuesday asked the Board of Supervisors to help sustain the region's only rehabilitative swimming pool when its current management departs later this month.

Several residents visited the board meeting to remind supervisors how vital the pool at the county-owned Timpany Center is to Santa Clara County residents with disabilities.

County resident Barbara Wilson said she has been going to the Timpany Center for more than 20 years. "It's kept me from going into a wheelchair, and helped others get out of a wheelchair", she said.

Dave Fedor of San Jose told the group he suffered a motorcycle accident on Interstate 880 a decade ago that cost him his right leg, but now he swims a mile a day at the center's pool.

While the pool has helped Fedor enormously, he told the board he was there on behalf of "all the old folks, the obese people and stroke victims" who find rehabilitation and relief in the 100,000-gallon warm-water pool.

Easter Seals currently manages the Timpany Center, located at 730 Empey Way in San Jose. While pool membership is open to the general public, the center specializes in classes for stroke survivors and people suffering from arthritis, Parkinson's disease, back injuries and other physically crippling ailments.

The pool is heated to 92 degrees to help relax swimmers' muscles and the Easter Seals Web site bills the pool as "one of the largest warm-water pools in the western United States."

A total of five people spoke in support of the pool, although resident Linda Kennedy assured the board "you would have hundreds of people here if it weren't for the 1/8physical 3/8 limitations" many pool patrons suffer.

Easter Seals will step down from its role managing the center by the end of month, the group said, creating the possibility that the pool and its rehabilitative programs will shut down. In addition to the pool, the center offers gym and day care facilities.

Gary Graves, the acting county executive, said the county has approached several potential managers and all have asked for more information on the center's operations to determine whether they are interested.

The county has put out an informal request for a proposal for a firm to gather this information. Graves expects to have the necessary details assembled by the end of February.

Finding suitable new management is "a challenge, although we are certainly optimistic," he said. "All of us are behind this very strongly."

The center is located in Supervisor Ken Yeager's district. Yeager said he has received "really strong" testimonials from pool users.

"We understand how invaluable and lifesaving this facility is for so many people," he said.