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Pleasanton: Remodeled locker rooms greet summer swimmers at aquatic center

Updates aim to refresh amenities while providing more convenience, privacy

The city of Pleasanton's Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center has renovated its locker rooms, changing the style and configuration indoors and adding rinse showers outdoors just in time for the hot summer season.

"The most popular thing from public feedback would be the privacy of the (interior) showers. We tried to make it more accommodating for personal privacy," city recreation supervisor Tracy Newman told the Weekly earlier this month.

Newman said that talks of renovating the nearly 25-year-old locker rooms had already begun when she began working at the Black Avenue pool facility in January 2017. By August 2018, construction on the multimillion-dollar project was already underway, beginning with the showers lining the main building and facing the pools.

As construction shifted from the rinse showers to the locker rooms, trailers were set up outside as a replacement. Nine months later, this past April, the locker rooms were opened to the public.

The locker rooms have not been completely finalized yet, however, as number placards still need to be added to the lockers -- an update that should happen within the next couple of months, according to Newman.

In total, the project will cost a shade over $2.4 million, from the city's general fund reserve for capital improvements, according to recreation manager Michelle Stearns-Dunaway.

The new locker rooms sport a variety of new features. Upon entering the locker room, the new tiles, artfully designed in a wave pattern, stand out almost immediately.

"(The city) did a beautiful job. I love the walls; I love the tiles that they used," said Renness Tomley, a member of the water aerobics class.

"The tiling is more exciting, since you can see some more fun artwork on the walls," Newman added.

The main difference in the new locker rooms compared to the previous design is the shift from a communal-style arrangement to an emphasis on personal space and private nooks.

For the indoor showers, rather than an open space with multiple shower-heads, the locker rooms now offer separate shower stalls with blue shower curtains to shield users from view. For ease of use, the shower controls have also been changed from push-buttons to twist handles.

The addition of cubbies allows people to store bags too large to fit into the lockers. The placement of these cubbies also create private nooks throughout the locker rooms, though separate changing rooms are also offered.

Another privacy feature added to the men's locker room was dividers between urinals.

One particularly important change, though less noticeable, is the addition of a vertical window on the door to each locker room, Newman noted. Since the doors swing open away from the locker rooms, people exiting the locker rooms were prone to bumping passersby just outside.

The lap swimmers and participants in the early-morning classes are regulars who have benefited the most from the renovations, according to Newman.

In addition to the renovated locker rooms, the rinse showers outside by the pool are a popular change among swimmers and divers, especially in the summer.

The appeal of Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center for users is clear. After watching her daughter jump into the pool for her swim class, Lily Cui stated, "I (have) come here to swim with my husband several times. The facility is clean and looks better than other places."

This was not the first time the popular aquatic center underwent renovation. In 2013, the dive tank on the recreation side of the facility was moved from what is currently a grassy knoll to be connected to one of the pools.

Regarding further work to be done, Tomley mentioned, "Well, the pool needs to have some repairs done to it, in terms of patching up some of the cracks in the cement, but otherwise I love it here and I think it's great."

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