Fresno has opened four cooling centers but a visit by The Bee on one of the hottest days of the year showed that most people were there to use other amenities, particularly swimming pools.
At Frank H. Ball Neighborhood Center in southwest Fresno, 24 people signed the visitor sheet after the doors opened at noon but most left the building when the pool opened at 1 p.m.
And at Pinedale Community Center, several people age 60 or older were served the senior lunch but were gone by 1 p.m.
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After they left, no one from the public was in the multi-purpose room being used as the cooling center, although later one person, a female, was cooling off in the foyer by the main entrance.
She said her car was being repaired at a friend’s house, so she walked over to Pinedale center to get out of the heat and charge her cell phone. She said she didn’t know the building was an official city cooling center.
Meanwhile, children were happily using the outdoor pool at Pinedale under the watchful eye of lifeguards.
But there are people who come to cooling centers specifically to cool down in the air conditioning.
Monique Garcia, 24, who lives at the Poverello House, said she has been homeless on and off for several years.
I’m going to find somewhere to get out of the hot sun and stay in the shade where I can charge my cell phone.
Monique Garcia, Fresno
The area around the Poverello House “is a desert” with little shade, she said, so she and her friend Anthony Sims headed for the Ball center.
“I’m going to find somewhere to get out of the hot sun and stay in the shade where I can charge my cell phone,” Garcia said.
She said her plan was to swim in the pool after the cell phone was charged.
No one was using the cooling center in the gym at the Ted C. Wills Community Center, possibly because the doors had been inadvertently locked. A staff member unlocked them after a Bee reporter asked when the center would open and said the doors were locked.
The hours for each of the city’s cooling centers is noon to 8 p.m. The swimming pools (the Ted C. Wills Center lacks a pool) are free when the city has declared the cooling centers open, as are six high school pools in Fresno when they are open for recreational use.
The city is tracking the number of people who come to the cooling centers, said city spokesman Mark Standriff. The centers opened Saturday and more than 600 people have used them between Saturday and Tuesday, he said.
Meanwhile, FAX bus rides are free when the rider tells the driver the destination is a cooling center.
Valley cooling centers
▪ Ted C. Wills Community Center, 770 N. San Pablo Ave.
▪ Frank H. Ball Neighborhood Center, 760 Mayor Ave.
▪ Mosqueda Community Center, 4670 E. Butler Ave.
▪ Pinedale Community Center, 7170 N. San Pablo Ave.
▪ Longfield Center, 560 Douty St.
▪ Pan Am Community Center, 703 East Sherwood Way
▪ Frank Bergon Senior Center, 238 South D St.
▪ Claude Meitzenheimer Community Center, 830 S. Blackstone St.
▪ Senior Community Center, 201 N. F St.
▪ Tulare Public Library, 475 N. M St.
▪ Tulare District Hospital lobby, 869 N. Cherry St.
▪ Transit Center, 425 E. Oak Ave.