The City of San Bernardino is refusing to allow budget cuts and the state-wide economic downturn to deter it from providing recreational activities for community residents.

In late June, the City’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department announced the opening of two additional city swimming pools, one located at Ruben Camps Community Center and the other at Rudy C. Hernandez Community Center.

And thanks to an anticipated $20,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente, the city also plans to begin operating a third pool in the city. All three pools were already built, but needed the money in order to operate.

According to the press release, due to the City’s budget constraints, only the Jerry Lewis Swim Center was originally scheduled to open for the 2009 summer season.

The Parks and Rec Department and the Mayor’s Office worked together and identified alternative funding strategies to augment this summer’s Swim Program, resulting in the recently announced opening of the pools.

“The community has been ecstatic about the opening of the pools and the collaboration between my office and the Parks and Recreation department has been phenomenal,” said San Bernardino Mayor Patrick J. Morris.

The collaboration effort came about due to the daunting fiscal deficits the Parks and Rec Department saw at the beginning of the year.

“Back in February we found out our Department was going to be hit with a $2 million reduction on spending for the year,” said Robert Lennox, Interim Division Manager for Recreation and Community Services with the Parks & Recreation Department. “We knew we had to close three of our traditionally opened pools.”

Lennox stated that the Mayor’s office reached out and extended the offer to help open the two other pools.

“The mayors office was very proactive in trying to identify how we could receive the needed funds,” said Lennox. “They saw it as an opportunity to help the community and transferred $25 thousand dollars of their budget into ours.”

The $25,000 came from a child care program that had already been earmarked by the Mayor’s office called Pre-K Promise.

“I had my team go out and find ways to fulfill the budgetary needs of the Pre-k Promise program and was able to then transfer those funds to the Parks and Rec budget,” said Morris.

The two additional pools are now open six days a week with two, two-hour sessions for swim sessions a day.

However, with the high temperatures and large amount of citizens taking advantage of the pools, the need for a new opening has arisen.

Morris took initiative and contacted health care provider, Kaiser Permanente. which already had a program in place called Operation Splash that had been initiated in other Southern California cities.

“I called them and they were very receptive but had no money left in their Operation Splash fund,” said Morris. “Their representative who I spoke with took it to their board and, after both my office and the Parks and Recreation Department worked with them, they called back last week and said you’ve got a $20,000 grant coming your way.”

If on-going discussions prove successful, Morris expects to have this site up and running for the remainder of the summer.

“I expect to have the grant in the next week and then open up the Mill School pool site,” said Morris. “We’re also going to be giving free swim lessons with some of those resources.”

The Mayor discussed how he hopes these free swim lessons can be beneficial.

“My hope is that with this money from Kaiser Permanente, we can provide swim lessons for children of low-income families who can then be pool safe and can swim well,” said Morris.

Morris commended the Parks and Recreation Department on how easy it has been for both entities to collaborate with each other. The relationship has worked so well that it’s producing another community-friendly project.

“We’re doing another substantial project with them,” said Morris. “A major skate board park.”

Morris said the park would be a $700,000 project but is worth it considering the massive popularity of skateboarding in the greater San Bernardino area and the great number of skateboarders who live there.

Leading this initiative from the Mayor’s office is Kent Paxton, Community Safety and Violence Prevention director for the city.

“In these tough fiscal times we were able to get some stimulus money, $500,000 from the city council, as well as the County BOS and other providers for use in building this skate park,” said Paxton.

“The Parks and Recreation Department is really the lead agency on this project,” said Paxton. “They’ve been wonderful to work with.”

To view press release about swimming pool openings, click here.

Andrew Carico can be reached at