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Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Complex gets a big financial boost

Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Complex gets a big financial boost


The dream of building the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Complex is another step closer to reality.

On Friday, in a ceremony at the Santa Ynez High School swimming pool, Raul Armenta, the vice chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, announced a new contribution to the building fund.

“Today we are donating $250,000 to help build this incredible project for the community,” said Armenta. “As a tribe, we are committed to making a difference. This reaffirms the tribe’s commitment to the community.”

Friday’s donation is in addition to the $100,000 the Chumash donated earlier to help jumpstart the project.

The dream began 10 years ago.

“I know (Santa Ynez High boys water polo and swimming coach) Jake Kalkowski has been spearheading this project at least that long,” said SYHS girls water polo coach Lisa Boyer, as her team took a break from practice to attend the ceremony.

The plan is to replace the aging, 55-year-old high school swimming pool with a modern aquatic center.

The complex will include two pools — an Olympic-sized 35-meter competitive pool and a 25-yard warm-water therapy pool — and will include changing rooms, lockers, storage areas, a sports medicine and science building, family play area and an “In Memory of Those Who Served” grand entry plaza.

“This is a huge project for the community,” said Jan Clevenger, the President of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District school board. “This is going to provide something the entire community has not had, other than in the summertime. It will provide pool access to the public seven days a week for recreation, child care and therapy for seniors.”

“It will be used by people of all ages, all abilities and will be handicap accessible,” said Lisa Palmer, the president of the SYV Community Aquatics Foundation. “It’s something this valley really needs.”

“The project is really exciting and it’s happening because of a unique partnership between the City of Buellton, the high school and the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation,” said Clevenger.”

The complex will cost $17.5 million with much of that coming from private donations.

“With today’s donation from the Chumash, we’ve raised $9.4 million. We have an application for $6.3 million in additional funding through the Prop 68 State Grant Funding so we still need to raise another $1.8 million between now and Jan. 1, 2022,” said Palmer. “The state grant committee came out yesterday and saw our great team and this great community. They’ve received about 500 applications for community projects and only about one in 10 will get funded. We’re hoping they see the incredible traction we’ve had. Since June, we’ve raised about $1.7 million. For the state, this is a very significant financial contribution. They will be trusting us to be good stewards of those funds.”

“Our city became involved in this project because it fits so well with our vision to provide recreational opportunities,” said Scott Wolfe, Buellton’s city manager, who was representing the City Council. “This project is strengthened through the community partnership. Our goal is to provide a first rate aquatics complex for all the people of the valley.”

“Santa Barbara County is also behind this effort. The county has a little over $200,000 committed to the center,” said Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann. “With Buellton stepping up, the Chumash support and the community involvement, this will be a winning project for the community.”

The two new Olympic trials pools have already been purchased and delivered.

They were hauled in by three large flatbed semis in March and now sit in storage in Solvang awaiting their new, permanent home.

“The youth programs will use this complex, the community will use it,” said Boyer. “I think it’s a great thing for the community and the school. We’re one of the few schools that still has a shallow-end pool.”

“This is phenomenal. This is something the high school has needed for a long time,” said Santa Ynez High Athletic Director Ashley Coelho, whose Pirates water polo and swim teams will be primary beneficiaries.

“This isn’t possible without all the community support, the school district’s and Buellton’s involvement. When it’s completed, it’s going to be beautiful — and it will be nice to get rid of that shallow/deep bottom we now have.”

“But we still need people to support the complex,” said Palmer. “People can be a part of helping achieve this vision by making a donation of any amount, large or small.”

To make a donation or get more information, contact the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation by email to, or visit Facebook at or #syvaquatics.


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