Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Its Time For The City Council To Decide The Fate Of The Pool

Posted by drewbendon on December 10, 2007

Over the past few years there has been considerable controversy over the future of swimming in Piedmont. Everyone agrees that the demand greatly exceeds the supply and that the community could benefit from an expanded aquatic facility. At the center of the Civic Center Master Plan (“CCMP”) is a proposal to build more pool space, but as yet there is no funding for such a facility (or even approval of the plan by the community).

Even if a donor were to give the City the many millions of dollars (at least $6,000,000.00, most likely more) to build the pool facility proposed in the CCMP it is virtually impossible that such a facility could be built in less than 3 years.

The Piedmont Swim Club’s (“PSC”) lease is set to expire on June 30, 2008. What will happen after that depends on whether the City Council agrees at its December 17, 2007 meeting to offer the PSC the lease extension requested in the last best & final offer that the PSC has been presented to the City Council.

In my view the only logical approach to take is to accept the PSC proposal and grant them a 3 year lease extension so that we as a community can decide: a) whether we want the City to take on the operation of the pool, b) if the pool proposal in the CCMP is the one we want and c) where we will find the funds to build such a facility.

There are only four reasonable outcomes of the hearing on December 17, 2007.

1. The city of Piedmont will take over the management of the pool. As stated in the Sports Management Group (“SMG”) report of October 2006, the city will be forced to operate at a loss, with estimates as high as $327,000 annually.

In his staff report to the City Council when the SMR report was presented, Geoff Grote stated that “The City Council should note that this table and the data it summarizes does not include a physical plant contingency, start up costs or staff costs likely to be required during the “conversion” to city operation. The probable operating cost shown in Table 3 on Page 10 shows a maintenance and repair budget of $41,500 to $51,600. These amounts appear to be low in the opinion of city staff.” Oh, and the City Council has never actually asked the voters if they want this expense in their budget.

2. The city closes the pool and it ceases to operate. Although I think that it is unlikely, it is a possibility.

3. The city extends the Piedmont Swim Club’s lease to operate the pool for an additional 3 years. This allows time for the City to determine if Piedmont wants the City to operate the pool and it allows time for the City to find funds for the proposed, elaborate new aquatic facility.

4. The city leases the pool to another entity. Though there are vocal opponents of the Piedmont Swim Club, it is not clear that there is any other organized entity that could operate the pool in a manner that is better for the community than the PSC. The SMG report of October 2006 indicated that the PSC was doing a good job of balancing the interests of the various user groups, given the space and the constraints placed on use by the community.

Please contact your City Council and offer your opinion on this subject.

Ann Swift, City clerk aswift@ci.piedmont.ca.us

Nancy McEnroe, Mayor nmcenroe@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 652-1058

Abe Friedman, Vice Mayor afriedman@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 654-0409

Dean Barbieri dbarbieri@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 655-6802

John Chiang jchiang@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 655-2959

Garrett Keating gkeating@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 566-1481

And, as always, we’d like to hear your thoughts here on PNN. Please send us a comment.


4 Responses to “Its Time For The City Council To Decide The Fate Of The Pool”

  1. trood said

    The Council will hear the issue on Dec. 17th and may vote on Jan. 7. The Club cannot continue operation without a lease extension in place by Feb. 1, so please urge anyone you know who cares about swimming or city finances to let the Council know their views. Thanks to all the Swim Club members who have emailed the Council already!

    Tim Rood
    PSC board president

  2. jbbdds said

    Two facts worth mentioning are:

    1. Andy Ball, President of Webcor, reports that he recently built the Orinda Park Pool, a facility of similar size and scope as the CCMP/RAC concepts for $2.3 million. This real-life number is in contrast to the hypothetical number produced by the Sports Management Group.
    2. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been pledged for the project. This fact was reported in the Piedmont Post.

    Now that we as members of the Piedmont Swim Club have our lease renewed, let’s each pledge our financial support to the ideas which have already been agreed upon in consensus during a year of RAC meetings which included representatives of all interested parties, including PSC. Members of the community at large, representatives in city government, and aquatic enthusiasts of all varieties would like to see all parties work in concert toward this mutually beneficial goal.

    See you at the pool!

    Josh Bernstein

  3. drewbendon said


    Thanks for writing. This thread is kind of old and was intended to point out the need for the City Council to act on the pool lease. Maybe its time for a new one about moving forward with the pool concept itself.

    In the meantime, it appears to me that the new pool at the Orinda Park Pool is a lovely facility, but OPP does not serve as the home pool for a high school and the swim team there is a summer rec. team, not an all year group like ours. I’m concerned that if we build to that level, we will have the same use/space fights we have now (unless there is a separate HS pool). Also, because OPP doesn’t serve the same user groups, I’m not sure that the $$ figure is an accurate comparable; this community appears to want a pool that serves the HS as well. But the Havens proposal is well below what the school board consultants figured. Perhaps Mr. Becker and Mr. Ball have another rabbit up their sleeve?

    While we are in the process of considering the nature of the facility, we as a community also need to address the management of the facility. OPP is a private organization, not a City run facility. The City Council needs to address this thorny issue head-on, and sooner rather than later.

  4. jbbdds said

    Yes, let’s move forward. The new City Council has this high on their agenda and the City also has funds set aside for this project.

    Fairness of governance is paramount in the future. Just like RAC and the Recreation Commission, an Aquatics Commission can be established with representatives of all user groups so that the new Aqauatic Center works best for everyone. Management then becomes a matter of hiring a capable Aquatics Director.

    Yes, wouldn’t we all like to see Mark Becker and Andy Ball work their magic on this. Luckily Clarence Mamuyac, RAC, and now CCMP have already done a great deal of the homework for all of us on this project and deserve our thanks.

    Speaking of thanks, thank you to the many members of the community who have already pledged their financial support for our new Aquatic Center.

    Josh Bernstein

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