Council Votes to Move Ahead in Process to Replace Aging Pools

But how the city is going to pay for it is still unknown.

At a special joint meeting with the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission on Monday, the City Council voted to accept recommendations to improve aging pools at Clarke Memorial Swim Center and .

The council didn't select a specific option, and the question of how the city will pay for the $25 million in improvements of the half-century-old pools remained unanswered.   

While council members and commissioners acknowledged the importance of improving the pools, much of their discussion Monday focused on the cost.  The council's main focus in the meeting was to include the pool improvements in the city's 10-year Capital Investment Program. Now, the council will analyze whether the current options for the project are feasible and if the necessary funds can be raised. Even though the council agreed to include the pool projects in the CIP, this does not guarantee that they will get the funding to be completed. 

PROS Commissioner Carla Ludwig said that before considering which of four options to select for improving the swim centers, the city needs "to see what level of support they would receive to get to close the ($25 million) needed for the pools.”

The meeting featured a discussion of the Aquatics Needs Assessment Report, prepared by the Sports Management Group, a Berkeley-based consulting company. The report suggested the following new pools be built and that improvements be made at Clarke Memorial Swim Center. 

Clarke Swim Center:

  • 50 meter pool
  • 25 meter x 25 yard pool with a bulkhead
  • Six lane x 25 yard lap and instructional pool
  • Family recreational pool 
  • Renovated and upgraded bathhouse. The council decided to build a new bathhouse instead of upgrading the current one because of its poor condition.

The estimated cost for the project is $22.4 million. 

The group offered four options for Clarke swim center; they differ according to how the new pools would be arranged within Heather Farm Park. Options 1, 2 and 3 would arrange the pools on the current site of the swim center. The fourth option would build the pools on what is now the playground area at Heather Farm, while keeping the current pools at Clarke open during construction.

The different projects do not include an increase in parking.

There is only one option for improving Larkey Park Pool: 

  • Renovate the six lane x 25 yard pool
  • Remove the baby pool
  • Add a large “sprayground”
  • Increase the lawn area
  • Operate seasonally 

The estimated cost for the project is $3 million.

About a dozen members of the public spoke at the meeting, the majority of whom were from the swimming community and use Clarke Swim Center. They represented a variety of ages. 

Speakers were from the Walnut Creek Aquabears USA swim team, the Walnut Creek Aquanuts synchronized swim team and the Walnut Creek Masters swim team. They expressed concern over where the teams would practice during the two years the pools were under construction. 

Long Time Creeker June 08, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Spend $24 million on "world class" swimming pools at community parks which is the most luxurious and expensive option available? The fact that repaving Ygnacio Valley Road is now five years overdue on a 20 year life expectancy that was estimated to also cost $24 million a couple years ago is IRONIC! But the fact that the Council doesn't recognize that repaving a vital regional traffic arterial is an economic necessity and that swimming pools are a pure luxury item is without excuse. Are these people smoking crack? Does anyone remember what happened when eastbound lanes of Ygnacio were closed for one day last year when a power pole fell? That was a disaster of a day for commuters and residents. PRIORITIES please! Let's find the money to repave Ygnacio BEFORE we make a luxury "world class" swimming facility!!!!!
JW (WC resident) June 08, 2011 at 02:20 AM
All rejoinders are fair and valid points. But, where were the voices behind such concerns at last night's public meeting? Apart from the general issue of money, I heard no citation to other priorities including Ygnacio Valley Road. There were probably 70-80 "public" there, and any who had comments were accorded opportunities to speak; fewer than 10 did. For now, council's putting the matter on the CIP does not ensure that anything definitive will occur on the pools (at least for Clark). That was clear, as reference was made to tens of other projects that long have been on the list. BTW, there will be a public meeting involving council in the main library next Tu, Jun 14 at 7:00; this will deal with the matter of fundraising -- not just for the pools work but for other items as well.
Jim June 08, 2011 at 03:52 AM
I work for a living. It is the council's job to separate the needs of the entire city from small but vocal groups that show up at meetings.
Justin Wedel June 08, 2011 at 06:09 AM
I was at the meeting and feel this was right decision by the City Council. They moved forward with accepting the consultant's findings and added the projects (Clarke and Larkey) to the CIP. They did not approve funding nor did they direct staff to "find" money. My major concern from the very beginning (which was confirmed during this meeting) was the way the consultants handled the "needs" / findings portion of this project. When I attended the community meetings where they collected opinions on the project options, staff and the consultants specifically stated the community could not comment on the cost of each option. We could only select the option we preferred, independent of cost. Now, if the city cannot "find" money to support this project, as provided in the consultant's findings, the city will have to pay the consultants even more money to come up with a plan-b. If this was handled correctly these type of discussions / options would have been included in this phase of the project. Additionally, without looking at costs throughout the process we are risking the entire project (at least in the short run) because they are too focused on long-term wants rather than the true needs of the community (a la other council projects in recent history).
SR June 08, 2011 at 04:27 PM
The most reasoned and responsible comments on this issue have come from council member Lawson. The rest of the council should be following her lead.


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