WALNUT CREEK -- When it comes to fundraising for the new aquatic and sports medicine center at Northgate High School, things are going swimmingly.
Already, even though groundbreaking is more than a month away, nearly $500,000 toward the $750,000 goal has been raised.
"We are right where we want to be," said Ralph Austin, president of Northgate Community Pride Foundation, which is helping to raise the money. "We feel good with where we are at because ... once the project breaks ground it's going to create a whole new level of excitement and we can close the balance pretty quickly."
The groundbreaking for the school's $7.5 million aquatics center is expected by at the end of October. The center will include a 40-meter pool with stadium seating and outdoor lighting and a dedicated sports-medicine classroom.
The idea of a pool has been floated for years, but it wasn't until $6.7 million in Measure C funds -- approved by voters to improve facilities in the Mt. Diablo school district -- was allocated last year that it became possible.
The district's active involvement with the construction bids, the environmental impact report and the overall planning for the center has been amazing, Austin said.
"Their participation, and just the good use of Measure C dollars for site facility improvements, goes a long way," he said.
John McMorris, Northgate's principal, said in his opening school-year letter to parents that Measure C is not just allowing for the building of the pool, but also for an engineering wing and for increasing the capacity of the school's Internet services.
We "have ordered hundreds of iPads, which will be in our students' hands this year," he said in the letter. "With your support, we will match this technology infusion with the goal of getting an iPad for every student."
Northgate has had quite a few upgrades in the last 15 years, including a new gymnasium, theater and sports complex and renovated dance studio. All have been spearheaded by Northgate Community Pride Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 to help improve educational and athletic facilities at the school.
For the pool project, Austin says, Northgate families and major donors have once again stepped up to fund the project.
And as the Northgate pool is built, Walnut Creek City Council members continue to figure out how to rebuild the city's aging pools. A couple of years ago, some council members asked city staff to investigate the possibility of Northgate and Walnut Creek doing some sort of joint venture for new pools.
Austin said while there were discussions the overall feeling by stakeholders was that Northgate's center should be a high school facility and built to meet the high school's needs. Once it's built there may be outside users who file for use permit,s but it will not be set up or run as a community pool, he said.
For years students have had to travel to other area pools, including the city's swim center at Heather Farm Park or the Diablo Valley College pool, for practices and meets. An on-campus facility will make it easier for the more than 100 swimmers who have to leave the grounds for practice every day, according to Northgate parents.
While the pool will be used for the swim, dive and water polo teams, wrestlers, dancers and cheerleaders will also get new facilities at the center.
The school's class of 2015 should be the first to have full use of the facility, Austin said.
To donate to the aquatics center project, go to www.northgatepride.org.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.