Council to consider extending pool agreement

Council to consider extending pool agreement

Michele Ellson

Photo by Jack Boeger.

The City Council will consider extending its joint use agreement for Alameda’s two high school swim centers to allow more time to work out a deal to renovate Encinal Swim Center.

The council is being asked to decide October 15 how much longer they’re willing to allow city and school district staff to work toward an agreement on deal terms for renovating the swim center, though the proposed agreement to be presented to the council offers four months beyond the day that it is set to lapse, October 22.

Council members told city staff in June 2012 that they would extend the agreement for a year to work out a more permanent solution for fixing the pools, which have been shut down several times over the past few years due to code compliance issues and equipment breakdowns. The council nevertheless agreed to extend the agreement once again this past June, on order to continue providing city swim programs.

Council members agreed on September 17 to loan $1.15 million to the school district to help fund the anticipated $1.9 million cost of renovating the Encinal Swim Center – but said they would let the use agreement lapse and walk away from the district’s pools if schools leaders didn’t accept the city’s terms. The demand infuriated swimmers, who showed up in droves over the past two weeks to tell both the school board and council members they wanted the agreement to be extended.

The school district runs high school swimming and water polo programs out of the pools while the city hosts lap swim and lessons. While the school district owns the pools, city staff maintains them and manages the schedule for both the city’s programs and the swim clubs who pay an hourly fee to use the school pools.

The district and the city split the roughly $300,000 cost of maintaining the clubs, and while the district bears sole responsibility for capital projects, city officials said they have shouldered some of that cost. (Recreation and Park Director Amy Wooldridge told the council in September that the city would pay the other $750,000 needed to renovate Encinal Swim Center.)

Swimmers – particularly those in the clubs – said they couldn’t understand why the city would walk away from the use agreement even if city leaders chose to look into building a swim center at Alameda Point; they feared they’d have nowhere to go while a new swim center was being built.

One swim leader thanked the city for considering the extension.

"We'd like to thank the city for putting an extension of the joint use agreement on the 10/15 agenda," Don Krause of Alameda Island Aquatics said. "We are hopeful this extension will pass and that the council will see fit to extend the agreement for the full year. We look forward to working with AUSD and the city on the renovation of Encinal Swim Center or the building of a new pool in the future as well."

Schools officials haven’t said publicly whether or not they’d close the pools, as many swimmers fear, though Superintendent Kirsten Vital said at the school board’s last meeting that she and city officials had a productive negotiating session. In a letter to the city, Vital had said the district wanted a lower interest rate than the city was offering, elimination of the requirement that the district put up collateral for the loan and consideration of a memorandum of understanding rather than a formal loan agreement.

The school board is scheduled to discuss “price and terms of payment” for a “lease leaseback agreement” in closed session on Tuesday.

Related: Council okays loan for pools, but their future is still uncertain

Comments

Submitted by Shaun Mckay (not verified) on Fri, Oct 4, 2013

Give the kids a break. Good to hear the news

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