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.