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‘Interim’ silence policy lifted at Tice Pools

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


(Wednesday, Jan. 18): The two-hour midday silence at the Tice swimming pools is over, at least for now, as the Aquatics Advisory Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to cancel that “interim policy.”

Committee members said that swimmers wanting music-free swimming time can ask pool operators to make the next available 30-minute time block silent. Swimmers can sign up for music they want to hear on the pool’s sound system or sign up for silence.

This vote brings the Tice pools back to their longtime previous policy of 30-minute blocks of music or silence all 15 hours per day that the pools are open. When water classes are in session, music will be played, as has been the custom.

Some swimmers have complained recently about the piped-in music playing, saying that it detracts from a peaceful swimming experience. One such person, Joyce Curry, addressed the committee on Thursday.

“I enjoy music that doesn’t insist on my attention,” and most of the music at the pool isn’t what she enjoys, she said. “It’s offensive going to the pool, and it hurts eventually,” Curry told the committee.

Several other residents told the committee that music enhances their water workouts, and in some cases make them bearable. Nancy Castille said she enjoys listening to “golden oldies” while she’s in the pool. Without it, she said, there’s “an eerie and negative silence, and that makes me unhappy.” She said she personally polled 100 people who use the pool, and that about 90 of them favored allowing music during that two-hour period.

Added Virginia Rapp, “Music helps with tempo and movement.”

Committee Chairman Richard Geissner acknowledged that not everyone will be pleased with this vote.

“No matter what our decision is, there will still be a problem,” he said.

Studying pool air temperature

The committee on Thursday also voted to ask for an “engagement letter” from UC Berkeley’s School of Engineering concerning a potential study of how the temperature of the air at the Tice pools, when they are covered, can be better regulated.

Tice’s retractable roof structure, installed in 2007, allows the pools to be enclosed. But that retractable roof has precluded installation of a traditional heating and cooling system, as the structure is not sufficiently energy efficient. When the retractable roof was installed, so to was an “air handler” that exchanges air inside the enclosed area with fresh air from outside, improving air quality when the roof is closed.

But the air handler neither heats nor cools the air brought inside, which can be uncomfortable, or unsafe, at many points during the year. Committee member Vivian Clayton suggested that grad students at the UC Berkeley School of Engineering could be asked to study the possibilities. The students would get class credit, and Rossmoor would have information that could prove useful.

In a report to the committee, Clayton said she asked Stacey Shulman, the assistant dean of admissions at the engineering school and new Rossmoor resident, to check with the School of Engineering research director, who called such a study “a challenging and worthwhile project.”

Clayton called it a safety matter. In her report, she referred to Sept. 6, 2022, when the temperature under the enclosure reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, prompting the pool’s closure that day. At the meeting, she told the committee that hot conditions at the pool one day last summer caused her to feel faint, prompting her to leave the pool. The number of such hot days, she said, will only increase.

GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson said powerful large fans have been used to draw hot air from the pool area, but that they aren’t particularly effective.

The next steps, Matheson said, could be determined when that “engagement letter” from the engineering school arrives and what it lays out.

Combining committees

The committee on Thursday also voted to recommend to the GRF Policy Committee that the functions of the Aquatics Advisory Committee and the Fitness Center Advisory Committee be combined, and that their charters be merged into one, in large measure to make their combined operations more efficient.

Matheson said many programs offered at Rossmoor’s pools are coordinated by Fitness Center staff already, and that several members of both committees are users of both the pools and the Fitness Center. To a significant degree, he said, the Fitness Center and the pools are intertwined.

Committee member Elisabeth Rutter said she wasn’t confident either the Fitness Center or the pools (or both) wouldn’t get the short shrift if their operations were combined. Hers was the only “no” vote on the recommendation to combine.

Fellow committee member Catherine Robinson-Walker stressed that it’s important to ensure that issues specific to either the Fitness Center or the pools receive the same degree of attention they would get if they remained separate committees. And Matheson said that if merging them is approved but proves unpopular, that they could be separated again.