May 11 2016

Proposed New Aquatics Center: Neighbors Are On Board

“The city has said that the carriage house, where Dress Best for Less is, behind the pool, the space between the recreation department building and the current pool, as well as the play structure area are all open territory for the new facility to take advantage of.”  

Stakeholder Aquatics Center Meeting – 

Last Wednesday, May 5, 2016, the Piedmont Community Pool managers held an exciting stakeholder’s meeting to discuss a new aquatics facility. Kevin Post and his associate were present from Counsilman-Hunsaker, Associates to hear the needs of the various interest groups present at the meeting. Post is a pool specialists who manages aquatic facilities, as they are all very unique and require more planning than most other facilities.

When I arrived, there were about 10 people sitting around a conference table, in a back room of the Piedmont Center of the Arts building. This meeting was the second of three sessions held that afternoon, each targeted to hear from different pool users.

At around 3 o’clock there were mom’s of high school freshmen, a few lap swimmers, recreation department representatives, and the club swim team coach, Stefan Bill. John Savage, high school water polo coach, and Megan Hernandez, High School athletic director, came in a few minutes later.

The greatest issue that was being discussed was lap lane availability and practice times for the various teams. Bill mentioned that he would love to be able to host competitive meets and events at the new facility, although it is recognized that parking would be a major issue.

The city has said that the carriage house, where Dress Best for Less is, behind the pool, the space between the recreation department building and the current pool, as well as the play structure area are all open territory for the new facility to take advantage of.

One concern that was brought up was the issue of neighbors being unhappy with noise levels. In past years neighbors used to call the pool office angrily to tell Jesus, a past swim team coach, to be quiet and not have the team do cheers in the morning or at night.

Rebecca Sermeno, the aquatics manager, reassured the meeting members that she knows the neighbors all quite well and that they are all on board with a new facility. The issues of the neighbors has been a reoccurring problem that has actually partially prevented previous plans of renovations.

Megan Hernandez, who grew up in Piedmont, said she can remember there always being talk of getting a new facility, and another, more skeptical meeting member, Stacy, said “show me the money and I’ll get excited” because she has seen so many proposed plans that all just fall through for one reason or another.

Sermeno however is much more optimistic and declared that this is the first time the pool has taken as many steps toward actually redoing the facilities.

I, a high school senior who practically lives at the pool, am also slightly skeptical. I remember that even when I was in middle school there was talk of a grand new 50 meter pool that was coming our way, but nothing ever happened. I do, however, have faith in Sermeno to watch this through and make sure it happens, it may just take much more time than predicted.

Things became real interesting when Post brought out his sample models of the different pool scenarios that could be built. One idea was a pool over 50m that had a bulk head, another was a 50mX25yd pool as well as a play pool that had a s0ft depth decline.

The meeting members all became very engaged in trying out different configurations on the printed out map to see what may work the best. Bill commented that he would love for there to be two competitive pools, however there is an obvious need for a more shallow, play and instruction pool. No conclusion was made, but Post was able to understand and hear the needs and wants of the various people present.

I stayed after the meeting ended to talk to Kevin Post a bit more to see his perspective on this plan.

Post told me that his company, Councilman-Hunsaker, has done over 1,000 pool facilities and that their employees are a mix of people with swimming backgrounds, like himself, and engineers that can plan out an effective and efficient aquatics facility.

Post explained that during the meeting they were getting input first, then they would work on getting together a few models and scenario with construction costs, which would then be presented at Council and public meetings.

Finally a decision about the level of funding would be declared which would allow a bid election to take place. Only then would they be able to begin working on deconstructing the current facilities and constructing the new one.

I was very intrigued by this meeting, I knew almost everyone there from my years of being in the pool community so I felt comfortable talking and giving my input. I felt like what I had to say was valuable to the discussion since I gave a unique perspective on the situation compared to all of the adults that were there.

Although the adults are the ones who pay the dues and fees at the club, I still believe that the younger generation’s voices needed to be heard since they make up a large majority of the people who swim at the pool. All in all, it was an exciting meeting to participate in and I am thrilled to see how the plans will actually turn out.

Kelsey Fennell, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author. 

2 Responses to “Proposed New Aquatics Center: Neighbors Are On Board”

  1. NO MONEY = NO PROJECT! Don’t come asking the taxpayers for another bond measure to pay for this. Between the municipal and school parcel taxes, on top of the advalorem taxes, we already pay more than nearly every other city in California.

  2. No project = no pool in the fairly near future. The aquatics consultants confirmed that the existing facility has passed the end of its 30-50 year useful life. The City couldn’t possibly fund the tens of millions needed to replace its 50 year old aquatic center without a bond measure. As a mostly residential city, Piedmont depends on property tax for most of its revenues, unlike cities that have a substantial commercial sector and sales tax base. According to data compiled by the California Local Government Finance Almanac ( the following cities all collect substantially more property tax revenue per capita than Piedmont: Belvedere, Ross, Carmel, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Laguna Beach, Atherton, Irwindale, Hillsborough, and Del Mar.

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