http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2011/03/09/menlo-park-council-approves-modified-pool-contract


Almanac

News - March 9, 2011

Menlo Park council approves modified pool contract

by Sandy Brundage

They didn't have to split a baby, but the Menlo Park City Council had to split the city's public pools on March 1, an issue so contentious that a former planning commissioner weighed in from afar — far away, as in out of the country — while on vacation.

Patti Fry's lengthy letter analyzing the situation and asking for more sunshine made an appearance via proxy at the podium as another Menlo Park resident read it out loud.

As Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kelly Blythe summarized the commission's advice regarding the proposed terms, he told the council, "Good luck."

The final unanimous vote to approve the contract, with a few changes, probably left no one happy except city staff and council, who might be relieved to finish the months-long debate.

The changes included letting city staff decide how much Team Sheeper will have to pay for facility repairs; accepting SOLO's decision not to accept additional lane hours on Sundays nights; and appointing representatives from the Finance Audit Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission to help staff review Team Sheeper's annual financial reports.

Councilman Peter Ohtaki's suggestion to figure out how to charge higher fees for non-residents, with the goal of having the money go into a pool repair and maintenance fund, was also accepted.

SOLO did get more pool time during the week with a bump to 80 lane hours, up from the 45 available under the previous contract, and set practice times. Since the club declined the Sunday hours, lap swimmers will lose 35 hours only during the week.

The contract requires Team Sheeper to pay $3,000 a month to lease the Burgess pools; be responsible for all operating costs; and operate the Belle Haven pools for at least three months a year. City staff estimated that would save Menlo Park $540,000 to $640,000 a year, not counting the additional $36,000 in revenue from the rent payment.

Team Sheeper also agreed to complete $200,000 in capital improvements to one or both pool facilities, which would trigger automatic renewal of the five-year contract.

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