Oct 13 2020

History: City Takeover of Piedmont Swim Club Pool Described by Members Who Negotiated with the City

How did the Community Pool reach the current cost and condition YES on UU campaign hopes to cure?  

The YES campaign for UU recalls, “the Piedmont Pool has been an integral part of our community, serving children, adults of all ages, and our local schools.”  That was true through the decades it was run by the Piedmont Swim Club, which funded, built, maintained, and managed it at no cost to taxpayers.

The Piedmont Swim Club heavily subsidized the Swim Team for their use of the pool and gave the School District free pool use.  When the City took it over, much changed as the operation proved more challenging than anticipated.  In May 2013, months after the City began running the pool, the City informed the School District at the last minute that they could not use the pool that year.   

The YES on UU campaign is concerned that the pools cost the City $1,000 per day prior to the closure by Alameda County COVID-19 mandate.  They write “the current pool is failing, leaking thousands of gallons of water every day.”  For 46 years the Swim Club paid all pool expenses, including initial construction, capital improvements, major and routine maintenance,  After the City ended that relationship in order to manage the pool itself, PCA received and published the explanation of the situation that is republished below.

HISTORY: Residents assert Post’s pool facts are wrong – January 11, 2012

The Piedmont Post’s January 11, 2012 article, “Rood’s tenure as final swim club president,” gets almost all key facts regarding the negotiations between the city and the swim club wrong.  From the beginning, the club agreed to pay all pool expenses, including major maintenance and capital improvements, as it had for 46 years.  In return, it simply asked that the terms of the existing lease be continued.

We have spent 40 years negotiating complex deals, both as an executive (Bill Drum) and as an attorney and mediator (Jon Sakol).  Neither Tim Rood nor anyone else negotiated anything in public.  That is different from keeping the people you represent apprised of the status of negotiations, which the club’s board had a fiduciary duty to do to its members, who were demanding to know what was going on.  Tim Rood’s August letter and the posting of each side’s proposals was available only to those members.  At the time, the only proposal the club had received from the city left all financial obligations blank, and the club had been told there were other things the city might want to talk about, but not what.  That was still the status at the beginning of October, when Jon Sakol began working on the negotiations for the club.

The only “ultimatum” the board gave the city was that it needed an answer by the end of December, so that it would have adequate time for a massive membership drive to restore its financial viability if the lease were renewed, and the city would have adequate time for the transition, if it were not.  We twice extended that deadline because Jon Sakol believed that the City and the club had essentially reached an agreement.

In January, however, the new city attorney substantially rewrote the lease, imposing new financial obligations on the club: that the city would have the sole discretion to deny the club the use of the money the club had set aside for major maintenance and capital improvements it was contractually obligated to make and keep that money itself; that the city could unilaterally have any work performed and send the club the bill; and that the club purchase hazmat insurance (which no other pool has and the city has not bought).  When the club did not agree to those terms (which were not in the rent-free lease the city gave the new arts center three months later), it was a member of the city council, at its February 7 meeting, who said “we’re out of time.”  (The only council member who sat down with the club to understand its financial projections supported the lease.)

Bill Drum

Jon Sakol

Editors’ note: Jon Sakol has endorsed UU.  Bill Drum has passed away.  

One Response to “History: City Takeover of Piedmont Swim Club Pool Described by Members Who Negotiated with the City”

  1. Very accurate assessment of why the Piedmont Swim Club (PSC) became public.
    The PSC was a great asset for the City.

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