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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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