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Jan 13, 2010 12:32 AM by Ariel Wesler

Aquatic center reopens after budget cuts

The Lompoc Aquatic Center has kept from going under. It opened again this week, after budget cuts temporarily shut it down. The move displaced some local athletic teams and dedicated swimmers. Several employees were also furloughed.

The center says in six weeks, it saved tens of thousands on personnel and utility costs, allowing it to reopen.

The aquatic center first opened in September of 2006. Following economic trouble, the Lompoc city council originally planned to close it down for two years, but the center saved enough money to only shut down for six weeks.

They're diving back into action at the Lompoc Aquatic Center after budget cuts forced it to close for six weeks. Many local athletic teams had to swim elsewhere and employees were out of luck.

"It was hard on us to plan ahead financially and be able to make it through six weeks," said Rebecca McIntosh, who's the head lifeguard at the center.

During that time, the facility was able to save $100,000 ,enough to stay afloat, at least for now.

"It's one of the most healthy needed aspects of our community, but often times it looked at as icing on the cake," said Jeff Storie, the center's supervisor.

85-year old Frank Piemme of Lompoc swims five days a week for about an hour and competes in U.S. Masters events. He says the aquatic center is vital to the community and without it, his training would suffer.

"It would not be as good for me competitively as having the pool here available virtually everyday," Piemme said.

He would have to drive to Santa Maria or Santa Ynez--and likely only practice three days a week, but either way, after 30 years, this hall of fame swimmer is having too much fun to quit anytime soon.

"It's a great way to meet people doing the same thing and it's certainly healthy, so the doctors tell me."

The supervisor says about 25 percent of the center's users are not from Lompoc, making it more of a regional facility.

The center is expected to close one more time toward the end of this year as a cost saving measure for the city.


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