Jan 11 2011

Response to a Resident – The Piedmont Swim Club Lease

Response from Piedmont Swim Club Board of Directors:

Dear Piedmonter,

Josh Bernstein’s email was forwarded to a member of the Swim Club board by one of its recipients. We’re concerned about the misinformation Josh is sending to the families with kids in PUSD and Piedmont Swim Team programs and would like to set the facts straight.

The families who pay dues to the swim club are the ones who provide all the funding for the pool, except for the $15,000 the Swim Team started paying a few years ago, which covers about 2.5% of the expense of running the pool. Swim Club families receive no taxpayer funds, but we do subsidize the PUSD and PST to the tune of over $100,000 a year, by providing free use to PUSD and very low cost use to PST at below-market rates – much less than they would pay to use any other pool. The city will charge them for that use.

There is no taxpayer subsidy of the Swim Club. The taxpayers pay nothing now and will pay $250,000 to $350,000 each year under city administration, according to the City’s consultants.

The supposed preference for lap swimmers doesn’t exist.  Kids can only use the pool before and after school, and they already do both. The Piedmont Swim Team has a before-school practice and an after-school practice. The only lap swimming that goes on during those times is sharing the pool during the morning and afternoon team workouts and the small window between the end of team practice and the beginning of water polo.  The water polo and high school teams have the whole pool from 7:00 p.m on during their seasons, which cover 8 months of the year – members aren’t even allowed in.

When the pool was built in 1964 (and paid for entirely by donations with no taxpayer money), there was no water polo program in Piedmont. Under an arbitration in 1997, the hours still in effect today were established as a compromise to allow water polo to be worked into the already-crowded schedule. This is hardly a preference for lap swimming at the expense of “kids”.  It is not possible to give the competitive swimming and water polo participants more time, because they are in school whenever they do not already have pool access.  The only way anyone could give competitive swimmers more pool space is to cut out morning and evening lap swimming completely, instead of reserving 2-3 lanes for lap swimmers, and thereby eliminating any access for the very people who are funding the pool operation, so that kids enrolled in competitive swimming programs could use the pool for free or almost free.

The City of Piedmont has the right to take over operation of the pool facility starting in July. If it does so, it will need to find the funding to do so. The Swim Club has offered to continue the current arrangements. Those are the facts.

Thank you for your attention.

The Piedmont Swim Club Board of Director

(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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