Nov 30 2010

Piedmont Swim Club Lease Negotiations – the Latest News

The Piedmont Swim Club has released information on the status of lease negotiations and requests community input.

A letter from Tim Rood, President of the Piedmont Swim Club  to the community dated 11/29/2010:

The Piedmont Swim Club lease expires on June 30, 2011.  Negotiations for renewal of the lease are at a critical point.  The City Council will be discussing the lease in closed session at its December 6, 2010 meeting.  The principal obstacle to a new lease is the issue of rent.  The Club’s position is that it already supports swimming programs for the Piedmont School District, the Piedmont Swim Team and the broader community at a cost to the Club of over $100,000 per year and it cannot, in addition, afford to pay cash rent.

For 31 of its 46 years, the Club has provided those programs to the community, in lieu of rent.  It did pay rent of $38,000 per year from 1993 to 2008, but, because of uncertainty about a lease renewal and the failure to have a long-term lease, Club membership has dropped by 145 (25%), causing a loss of about $400,000.  For that reason, there simply is no money to pay rent.  The City’s position is that, if the Club does not pay rent, the City will take over operation of the pool, which it understands will cost the City between $250,000 and $350,000 and will require the City to charge those families who participate in the swimming programs of the Piedmont School District and Piedmont Swim Team for their use of the pool.

If you are a member of the Club, your kids participate in the high school water polo or swim teams, the middle school PE or adapted PE programs, or the Piedmont Swim Team programs, or you are a Piedmont taxpayer who doesn’t care about swimming but does care that the City not spend money on something that has been provided for the last 46 years at no cost, it is important that you let the members of the Council know, before their December 6 meeting, that renewal of the Piedmont Swim Club lease is important to you. Council member Garrett Keating, as a member of the Club, has recused himself from this issue. The names and email addresses of the other Council members are listed below, as are the important points on this issue.

John Chiang:, Dean Barbieri:, Jeff Wieler:, Margaret Fujioka:, (cc the City Clerk,, so your email becomes part of the public record)

Important Points About Renewal of the Swim Club Lease

1. Uncertainty about renewal of the Club’s lease and the failure to have a long-term lease in place over the last five years has caused Club membership to drop by 145 and forced it to lose about $400,000 in revenue and to completely use up all of its reserves.  As of July 1, 2011, it will have no reserves.

2. The City helped get the Club into this fiscal dilemma and, if the Club is to continue to provide its support to the swimming programs for the kids of the community and public access to the community as a whole, at no cost to the City, the City is going to have to help the Club get out of it.

3. Returning the Club to financial health will be hard.  The Club will have to regenerate prudent reserves for both operating and capital expenses before it can pay any money to the City for rent.  Financial forecasts making reasonable assumptions over the course of a projected lease show that the Club can’t both generate those reserves and pay rent to the City.

4. In lieu of rent, the Club has offered to give the City any money it hasn’t spent at the end of the lease, if the City will use that money for pool operation or towards a replacement pool.

5. The Club is willing to continue to provide swimming programs for the community at no cost to the City.

6. If the City takes over operation of the pool, its own projections show that it will cost the City between $250,000 and $350,000, and the City will not be able to provide free use to the Middle School and High School swimming programs or heavily discounted use to the Piedmont Swim Team.

7. Other communities have had to close public pools for budgetary reasons and have established partnerships with local non-profits to provide swimming programs for the community.  Piedmont already has that model and it has worked for 46 years.  This would be a strange time for the City to abandon that model and take over operations of the pool at taxpayer expense, simply because the Club could not pay a rent which represents a small fraction of the cost to the City (rent the Club demonstrably can not afford to pay).

8. The Blair Park group, which plans to operate soccer fields in Moraga Canyon, is not being asked to pay rent.  Why is the Piedmont Swim Club?

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author.  All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

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