How One Eichler Neighborhood Cooperated to Save its Pool

Joe Eichler
Joe Eichler cutting the ribbon at the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club in 1958. Photo courtesy Lynn Drake.

Like many Eichler neighborhood pools, Palo Alto's Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, which Joe Eichler opened in 1958, was showing its age.

After decades of summer frolics and winter weather, the cement on the deck had become pitted and flawed. The clubhouse wanted another coat of paint, and the facility's wiring was well out of date. It was time for the neighborhood association to take action, and they did. 

Work starts this month on a project to restore the pool's deck, repaint the pool house, and replace the subterranean wiring and other hookups to make the facility compatible with 21st century needs. The goal is to make the facility look as good as it did when it opened, and to keep those same aesthetics in place.

As Eichler neighborhoods reach middle age across the state, those with pools or other communal facilities will soon face similar issues, if they haven't already. So I thought it would be worth taking a look at how the Palo Verde community in Palo Alto went about it.

Eichler Club
The Eichler Swim and Tennis Club's front door. Photo courtesy Lynn Drake.

The project's $600,000 budget puts each of 300 neighborhood association members on the hook for $2,000. Under the association's by-laws, it required a two-thirds majority vote by the neighbors, which meant a massive PR effort on the part of the eight-member deck committee. That committee first conducted research and took bids, which went to the neighborhood's board of governors, then the neighbors voted.

"I think the important part of this process was a lot of outreach to our members so that they could understand what we were doing. We were calling people, we had poster boards up, we had meetings. It really takes a lot of outreach and coming together," deck committee member and Eichler homeowner Lynn Drake told me. All in all, the deck committee worked for about two years.

The project will include repaving the deck and installing new drains, as well as replacing the wiring and utilities hookups underneath. The look will stay the same, though this upgrade means upgrading the ADA compliance with ramps and railings and so on. The club itself will get a new coat of paint.

"We'll have a red door and a darker façade. It's going to look sharp," Drake said. Future upgrades such as a new barbecue area can use the new utility hookups that will come with this project.

Pool Open
Frolics in the early days of the pool. After decades of this, it needs some work. Photo courtesy Lynn Drake.

The key, Drake said, was to build with a view toward the future. "We had to hire a soil engineer to tell us what kind of soil we had and what kind of concrete deck we could install so it would last another 30 to 50 years. We didn't just want to do a quick fix. We wanted something for the next generation."

Not all the members of the neighborhood will enjoy it for that long, Drake said. "Some who have been members for a long time may only get to enjoy it for a few more years, but they're paying for future generations. People felt it was the right thing to do."