Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Piedmont Pool – Letter to the Editor

Posted by Len Gilbert on August 23, 2010

This letter to the editor was also sent to the Piedmonter and Piedmont Post.

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To the Editor: Piedmonter/PiedmontPost

Josh Bernstein’s August 19, 2010 letter to the Editor “Time to reconsider pool management” makes several claims that could  only be true in the world of “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, where things mean their opposites.  First, it claims “[e]very taxpayer subsidizes the rent and operation of this private club.”  In fact, the Piedmont Swim Club is not some exclusive “private” entity.  Anyone in Piedmont who wants to join and is willing to pay the initiation fee and dues to support swimming in Piedmont is free to do so.  The device of a “private” club is simply what allows swimming to happen in Piedmont at no taxpayer expense.  Through its fees and dues, the Club operates the pool and supports the swimming programs of the Piedmont school district, recreation department, and swim team.  The pool was built on donated land with donated funds and, whether the Club has paid the nominal rent it paid for 15 years or the no rent it has paid for the other 31, it has never cost the taxpayers a dime.  Contrast that with the proposed, City-operated new aquatics center–with a competition pool, a lap pool and a children’s pool-Josh Bernstein is the principal advocate for.  The City’s 2006 outside consultant’s report found that city operation of the pool (new or old) would require a taxpayer subsidy of up to $325,000.  It put the cost of building a competition pool alone at $10 million.  How the Club’s operation, which costs the taxpayers nothing, involves a taxpayer “subsidy” and the proposed multi-million dollar, City-operated aquatic center involves none, only Humpty Dumpty could explain.  Second, the letter refers to the “years of acrimony between the City and the [Club]”.  The only acrimony I am aware of comes from two small factions: those who want to use the pool facilities but don’t want to join the Club to pay for them, and those who support the dream aquatics center but, as yet, haven’t been able to convince the rest of  the community to fund their dream.  Finally, the letter implies that the recent pool closure involved a lack of “safety oversight”.  How it reaches that conclusion when the DEH inspector who closed the pool found it was in compliance with the new safety laws, the letter doesn’t say.  (The pool was initially closed because of failure to have certified that compliance, even though the law and DEH’s own web site said that certification was not due until September 30.  It then remained closed so the drains and drain pipes could be reconfigured at DEH’s request to increase the flow rate of water through the drains by less than 10%.  See, http://piedmontswimclub.com/whathappened.pdf. )  A recent KTVU report found that Alameda County has been shutting down ten public pools a week since July 1 and is the only county in the area that has found the need to do so in the middle of the summer.  That is the real story.

Jon Sakol
Piedmont
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