Highlights of the makeover include a new community room for events, new mechanical and plumbing systems to improve the comfort of patrons, and a thoughtful redesign that prioritizes pedestrian safety and accessibility for all. A pool divider allows for increased programming with flexibility for recreational and lap swim, while a new mural features people and animals making a splash. The 2012 Clean and Safe Parks Bond provided over $9 million in funding for the project.
“Balboa Park Pool is an important community space where generations of San Franciscans have learned to swim. With this new renovation, I am happy to say that it will continue to serve the community and families for years to come,” said Mayor London Breed.
Balboa Park and its pool are part of a 1.1 million square foot sports complex with multiple fields for soccer and baseball, tennis and basketball courts, a children’s play area and a skateboard park.
“Balboa Pool is the final piece of the major renovations we have led for this park over the last decade,” said District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. “It will be the crown jewel of pools for generations of San Franciscans for years to come.”
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said the renovation was shaped by swimmers and neighbors invested in improving their cherished gathering place.
“Community members were instrumental in this project and I’m so excited for them to dive in and enjoy the improvements,” he said.
With 2-percent-for-art funding generated by the pool renovation, the San Francisco Arts Commission engaged local artist Jason Jägel to create a 37-by-13-foot mural. Conceived as a swimming pool of the imagination whose visitors come from diverse times, places and realities, All My Friends at Once pays tribute to the facility and the surrounding neighborhoods it has served since it opened in 1959. Central to the composition are figures symbolizing the San Francisco Merionettes, an award-winning synchronized swimming club formed in 1956, which performed at the re-opening and continues to practice at Balboa Pool.
According to the artist, “I would like All My Friends at Once to contribute to the joy and adventure of Balboa Pool. The mural wants to share your time at the pool, celebrate our neighborhoods and fill you with color.”
“Jason Jägel is a celebrated San Francisco-based artist whose work can be found in the collections of the Museums of Modern Art in both San Francisco and in New York City, to name a few,” Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny said. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues at the Recreation and Park Department to incorporate a permanent public artwork by such an esteemed local artist into this beautiful new facility.”
David Hooper, president of the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association, said the renovated pool is the capstone in neighbor’s efforts to beautify Balboa Park.
“Over the last 12 years, the community has worked with Rec and Parks, KaBOOM! and the Trust for Public Lands to complete the renovation of Balboa Park. This effort began with of the parents of young families and their focus on the need for an improved children’s playground, skate park and dog play area. The pool renovation is just the icing on the cake and everyone who has been involved in this long campaign should take a bow—including the great gardener who keeps the park looking its best,” Hooper said.
Balboa Pool is the fifth of six enclosed pools built post-World War II and one of nine public swimming pools in San Francisco today. It is a hub of water safety education, with nearly 1,000 youth enrolled in learn-to-swim classes annually. In fiscal year 2016-2017, Rec and Parks granted more than $20,000 in learn-to-swim scholarships to low income families.
The next pool slated for renovation is Garfield Pool in the Mission District, followed by Rossi Pool in the Inner Richmond.