Town Square

Post a New Topic

Fight for Menlo Park pool contract

Original post made on Oct 26, 2010

The rivalry between two Menlo Park swim clubs has splashed beyond the pool, as Team Sheeper and SOLO Aquatics attempt to out-bid each other to manage the city's swimming pools.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 10:34 AM

Comments (47)

Posted by Morris Brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm

From what I know, the key and fundamentally most important piece of information from Sheeper is not being obtained.

All the tax returns, both personal and business since the pool contract was awarded to Sheeper, should be absolutely obtained and studied. That's is the only way, the City can determine how much can be charged.

If he is un-willing to provide such information, and from what I gather that is indeed the case, his application should be looked at in that light.

This is public facility, the City has every right to know just what the financial picture presents.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Mr. Brown, while I agree with you that this a public facility, and I agree that the City is doing the right thing by putting this out to bid; I am at a loss to follow your logic that Sheeper's bid should be considered in any "light" other than how it compares to the competing bid. What principle of law or business would dictate that Sheeper should provide personal tax data to let the City know what the financial picture presents? lLast time I checked, we still are operating under a system based on capitalism.


Posted by Morris Brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Why the need for the tax returns. To determine the profitability of his operation. When the contract was first let 4 years ago, the mantra was this is a new venture for him with lots of risks and therefore the City should just go ahead, grant him the franchise and not charge.

Sheeper was never asked to pay for the use of the pool. Surely the City needs to know, just how valuable this franchise is and from that data, determine how much should be charged.

It certainly is capitalism. Included in his original contract shold have been a clause that would have mandated such disclosue.

Surely in any new contract, that will be included.


Posted by mostly a fan, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I think Sheeper has done a great job overall in running multiple programs at the same time and managing pool use in terms of financially not allowing the pool to be such a drain (no pun intended) on finances. Compared to the financial drain the pool was when the city managed it, Sheeper has been excellent.

My big complaint that as a user of mostly recreation/family swim, the tiny space we get compared to lessons, teams, etc, is no fun for the kids. They have to stay quite often in 1/9 of the pool or one lane.

If the city was running it, I know there would be more space for recreation swim, but at a very high cost to the city.

Trade offs! Not sure what the right answer is, but if the consensus is still to keep it with a private operator, Sheeper has my vote for being a community minded person, passionate about swimming and fitness programs for people of all ages.




Posted by Margaret Winters, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:59 pm

In reference to the comment about why MP should look at the tax returns of Mr. Sheeper, I would think that in this case that this is the only way to determine just how profitable his operation has really been. Mr. Sheeper is running this, as I understand it, as a *profitable* operation, and the City of MP is not charging him any rent for the pool. In my mind, that doesn't compute --- why would MP hand him the keys to a car he didn't pay for?


Posted by Morris Brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Margaret:

Excellent question. The rational at that time, was going private would save the City money. It was "railroaded" though without adequate process.

Now we are in different situation. A fair and confidential examination of the needed tax records, should reveal the profitability or losses sustained by the operating entity.

To be clear, the biggest complaints that I have heard about are lack of lane space, with the Sheeper organizations being accused of getting too much favoritism, and certainly the local SOLO club not being granted what was their lane space as was promised under the original agreement.

It is my understanding that at the present time, there are no plans to turn over the operation of the new gym to a private entity.

It may well also be the case, that perhaps this new facility should be run by the City.

Certainly the operation seems profitable. Mr. Sheeper wan a new contract. He also at his expense bought the "bubble" to increase usage during the winter months, and presumably increase the profitability more.




Posted by dog paddler, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

In 2006, the city asked the rec department to do a comparative analysis of other Bay Area aquatic facilities. That study was never publicized, although I have a copy of a draft. Surprise! Almost all other facilities either break even or run a profit.

It's true that Menlo Park, alone of all the cities, was losing substantial amounts of money in the olden days, but that's because the pool was ancient and constantly breaking down. There's no reason to think that a brand new pool wouldn't be profitable. And the pool has been a cash cow-- for someone who isn't even paying a cent to use it. Essentially, the city set up Sheeper's business, funding all the startup costs 100%.

From all accounts, he is managing the club well, and therein lies the problem. The facility is being run as a club for master swimmers and people taking lessons. The hoi polloi get a tiny scrap of space and limited availability. That is sad and could have been avoided with greater city oversight.

Note also that there have been two major, dangerous malfunctions in the baby pool. The baby pool is not a profitable area for Sheeper so it doesn't merit a lot of attention.

I think the city has every right to examine Sheeper's business records. He's using a public facility on public property to run his business! And agree with Morris; regular audits need to be built into the new contract with whomever is chosen to operate the facility.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I'm sorry Morris but you are [portion deleted - please avoid personal attacks]. What you are asking for is similar to one of my clients asking me for my tax documents and what my profit margin is when I give them a construction proposal. It's none of their business! They either like my price or they don't. How much profit I am making is immaterial. It is immaterial in this case as well. Either the city likes his proposal or it takes a lower cost proposal. How much Sheeper would or did make is NONE of anybodies business.


Posted by Another Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I agree with Menlo Voter.

Mr. Sheeper's tax records should be immaterial. Why should his finances be a deciding factor? Why should he have to expose his whole financial picture to the entire city? We as a community either like his operation or we don't.




Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

It is very reasonable for the city to ask for the expense records for the pool operations from Mr. Sheeper. Not for his own swim program, but for everything else related to the pool.

This is information needed for us taxpayers to be comfortable that any new contract is reasonable. It also should put to rest the lingering debate about how much was saved by outsourcing the pool and how much is attributable to the vastly upgraded facility.

Additionally, there should be a report of the number of Menlo Park participants, by program (community and private), so we can also validate that the pool operations serve the Menlo Park community well.


Posted by Lindenwood resident, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:28 pm

The city should be thrilled to have two competent, well-organized businesses interested in the contract.

My family and I have been involved in both programs over the years. They are both well-run organizations, led by good people. They serve slightly different markets - Solo is more competitive and skews slightly older than Mavericks; Tim has a Tri program and Masters program that target still different segments.

I have also been an ordinary recreational swimmer - except for peak summer months, there is plenty of time and availability for lap swim, just show up on a weekend or after 5 pm to see for yourself.

The solution seems easy - Bid the contract and see what happens. Capitalism works!


Posted by Another Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I could understand looking at a profit and loss statement as well as comparable figures for surrounding community pools, but tax returns would be too much. What if his tax return for the pool operation is not separate from the swim program?


Posted by Markswim, a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Our community benefits from excellent recreational, instructional, and competitive swimming opportunities. We should focus on how to continue these, especially for our kids, as upcoming stars and future leaders. In particular, having a strong connection to USA Swimming provides a path for the kids that strive for individual and team success. A sensitive and thoughtful coaching staff can help an interested swimmer become a great athlete. When will the next great swimmer be from Menlo Park?


Posted by Fair for All, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Oct 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

One point that should be considered is that Solo is a non-profit organization. With this in mind, one could imagine that a facility would be run with different priorities, and could address issues of the community in a more flexible manner. Profit would not drive decisions about how to divide the pool at certain hours, or on certain days. Pool use times could be determined which made most sense for all parts of the community.

An additional point of interest is that bids were to address operation of both the Burgess pool and the Belle Haven pool. It will be interesting to see if the City is going to invest in improving the Belle Haven pool to bring it up to a level needed to run both community-minded and club-minded programs.

Finally, although neither Bid has been made public, I've come to understand that the Solo bid offers Mr. Sheeper the option to continue to run the Masters Program; in essentially the same way it is run now. Masters swimming is clearly Mr. Sheeper's core competence, and his Masters swimmers are very supportive of his training and credentials. Solo's strength is teaching and training kids of all ages and abilities. It would be great if the Sheeper bid offered Solo access to the pool(s) at times and fees adequate to run a swim club as a non-profit. The article mentions that Solo gets more hours/week than the Sheeper Mavericks. What it doesn't point out is that Solo's club is much larger,and services a much larger age-range, and operates more day/week to get the kids more pool time. You can often see Solo kids squished 7 or 8 into a lane during practice. It seems that programs could be coordinated in a much more effective way if the $ wasn't such a driving factor.

The two programs (Solo and Sheeper) are complementary, and rather than fight over pool time and money, the operation of the pool(s) should be considered to maximize the value to the community for both recreational swim, youth lessons, training and competition based swimming, and adult Masters Swim (as well as other events such as water polo, group water aerobics, etc).

I certainly hope the City is wise, open minded, and creative enough to craft a solution which is not Sheeper vs. Solo, but rather Menlo Park-minded.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2010 at 12:07 am

I find it odd that only two bids were received.

Out of curiousity: Could the YMCA bid on this, or was that not allowed because they are "religious", at least in name?

And if they could bid, why didn't they?


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks to Menlo Voter and Another Menlo Voter for clearly making the point regarding tax returns that I didn't do such a good job on. I do want to expand on my original post, however. My original reference to capitalism was intended to refer to the value that comes from a system where the profit motive serves to deliver superior goods & services. I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Sheeper's operation is profitable(how profitable is his business). If he was losing money, I' pretty sure he wouldn't be bidding on the contract. The fact that every report I have seen or heard is that the operation has an approval rating in the high 90%s convinces me that, barring a lower cost proposal that provides the same or greater services, Sheeper should win the bid competition. The main things that concern me about some of the comments in this thread are: (1) if the City goofed up and did not include audit rights in the first contract, it is not in a position to impose that on Sheeper now' (2) insisting that Sheeper include his personal tax info is wrong, (3) even if the City had audit rights, disclosure of that information to the other bidder would provide an unfair competitive advantage to the other bidder who already has the advantage of being non-profit, and finally (4) screwing around with something that is obviously working well is just asking to mess it up-something I see municipalities like MP do a lot.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

Mr. Sheeper's profits are completely irrelevant to an open bidding system. We don't award contracts to companies who will have the lowest profit, we award them to companies that have the lowest price. If a bidder can make a boatload of money at a low price, that's their reward for efficiency.

Suppose Mr. Sheeper's bid is the lowest but you discovered his profits are just a little higher than his competition. Should the city award the contract to the higher bidder to reward them for their inefficiency or should the city save money and go with the low bid from Sheeper?

Any accountant can adjust expenses and overhead to make a business look more profitable or less profitable. Why aren't you just interested in a competitive bidding process and what price the city will have to pay?


Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

Two of my three children swim year-round with Tom McRae and the SOLO swim team and have done so for the past 4 years. I am probably at that pool upwards of 5 days a week and can say, without a doubt, that Tom is probably the best coach on the Peninsula. His attention to form and swimming smarter, not harder, prevents over-training and develops a tremendous stroke. My daughter is constantly getting comments from fellow swimmers/ families we know around the Bay Area about how strong her technique is. Tom knows every child in that pool and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The level of detailed attention you get from SOLO coaches is far superior to any other program, IMO. But as a parent, what puts SOLO over the top for me is the life-lessons Tom, Sean and Robert give. They talk about being role models, about putting school first, what it means to be a student-athlete, about being respectful of yourself and others, about never cheating at anything, etc. I appreciate the life lessons being woven into the athletic/ competitive world.

Because of the affiliation with M-A High School, SOLO makes the transition easier into M-A for scores of kids each year. And the caliber of coaching is evident-- look at Sarah Winters and Heidi Kucera who have both been recruited to Division I UC Davis (my alma mater) after Tom's coaching. Heidi had given up swimming after developing a chronic shoulder problem due to improper training. She credits Tom with encouraging her to return to the sport and completely revising her technique. Heidi was recently the first athlete (let alone swimmer) to represent UCD at the NCAA Championships. Totally amazing.

SOLO is a first class organization (and a non-profit at that) and the results speak for themselves. I'm so proud SOLO represents and serves Menlo Park. Go SOLO!


Posted by knew SOLO, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:19 am

We need a swimming team that have good performance and grow up with the community that SOLO gave us.
The M team staff in Burgress are likely to work fewer as possible. I cannot see the sports passion in the pool... ...
Solo has to move around for pool space, but the swimmers are following without any complain. PLEASE ask yourself, WHAT MADE THAT?


Posted by Christy Story, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

My kids have competed against the Maveriks through Ladera Rec swim events and participated with SOLO's waterpolo team. And appreciated both of these types of experiences. They foster a love of the sport, skill development and fitness opportunities year round.

I think there is a need for continued opportunities for kids sports and fitness that is not at the "elite" club level. Both programs seem to fill niches for sports/fitness that build a love of the sport without having to be super competitive and dedicated. I wish there was a way to make more room for these types of programs. Otherwise parents have to accept the more intense model of Stanford or other swim clubs in the area. So for me, the end result of their model (business or otherwise) has been positive.


Posted by Laura, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

The City Council invited criticism and suspicion by not soliciting multiple bids and holding an open selection process and instead awarding what has all the appearances of a "sweetheart" deal to Tim Sheeper. They should rectify that mistake this time. They should also make sure whoever is awarded the contract is appropriately motivated to allocate pool time to uses that may be less profitable, but are important to the community, like open swim for families and use of the pool by SOLO aquatics. If the city doesn't have the data to determine which uses are more or less profitable, as the article suggests, it should start there.


Posted by Michael Fero, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm

As Menlo Park swimming and water polo community members for over 20 years our family (Mom,Dad + 4 kids) has had a good deal of experience with local swim programs (Menlo Park, Solo, Ladera Oaks, Ladera Rec, PASA).

Frankly, Tim Sheeper is the best Masters Swim coach my wife and I have ever experienced. He is also an excellent manager and organizer and has created a truly remarkable and diverse program for the City of Menlo Park at Burgess Pool. I have never seen a City pool so well run.

On the other hand, my children have all been coached by Tom McRea as participants in his SOLO USA swimming program. Tom is a great age group coach and has done very well for M-A High School as the Swim coach. As a previous poster mentioned he is technically very good and encourages swimming smarter not harder.

Menlo Park is SO very lucky to have these guys... I hope the media does not blow things our of proportion and start dividing the community over what should be a straight forward business negotiation.

Let's find a way to get the time SOLO needs without destroying the great program that has been built at Burgess by Tim and Menlo Swim and Sport.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm

This may be a bit off topic, but I have to ask. What happened to having a fun public pool for people (old, young, middle-aged) to just go have fun swimming? Why all the emphasis on who runs/coaches/develops the best competitive swimmers/teams?


Posted by henry fox, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm

It is interesting that there are only 2 pool bidders.
Four years ago, when the so-called sell-out to sheeper was made, the City said it could not find any other bidders, and that has now been borne out.

Whatever happens in the pool bidding, let's continue to extend city operations to experts, instead of having them run by city staff. The West Menlo childcare center could be so much better if it were run by an accredited program.It has had 3 directors this year. The Director of the Belle Haven Children's Development center plead no contest for making overatures to a staff member's child.


Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I have three grown daughters who all swam for Solo in their youth. All three went to MA, two were on the water polo and swim teams.

As mentioned Tom McRae is a superior stroke instructor, but clearly emphasizes competitions. This is confirmed by Erin Glanville above. Regular swimmers just don't last long on Tom's teams. In fact Tom has been known to use negative coaching techniques to try to motivate kids to perform beyond their abilities. This has involved public rebukes, shouting sessions and tossing the kids belonings in the pool.

These incidents have forced Tom to move his program many times over the years. He tried and failed to run a team in San Luis Obispo a few years ago.

The Burgess pools were not intended for this type of a competitive emphasis. Tom should continue to focus on his specialized group of youths and leave the every day operation of the Burgess facility to Tim Sheeper who is emotionally fit for the entire job.


Posted by dog paddler, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I agree with WhoRUpeople. I grew up in a city that had community pools, where we kids hung out in the summer. We didn't swim laps or work on our strokes or compete in meets. We PLAYED. That is my problem with this new facility -- except for the baby pool, there is no place for kids who just want to wander around calling "Marco Polo" or dive for pennies. It's all serious stuff.

I am thrilled that people are getting exercise in master swim programs and that kids have found wonderful coaches, but shouldn't a city pool offer space for those who truly want recreational use? The city should be requiring adequate space and time for non-serious swimmers too.


Posted by Adam Kerr, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I have been a resident of Menlo Park since 1991, and a frequent pool swimmer for much longer than that. I have children in the Menlo Swim & Sport swim lessons. My wife and I both have swum on multiple Master's teams, but both swim now with Menlo Masters. We also use the open recreational swim at Burgess in both the wading pool and instructional pool.

The programs I and my family have participated in at Burgess have been absolutely top-notch, and the facility has been extraordinarily well-run in my opinion. Menlo Park has been exceedingly fortunate in having Menlo Swim & Sport develop such an active and vibrant program that provides opportunities to use the pool that far outstrip those in neighboring cities.

I have seen the age-group coaching that Menlo Swim & Sport provides, and know one of the coaches well from swimming with them. My observations are that it's well-run, with positive coaching, and benefits from having very knowledgeable instructors. I don't have any similar experience with SOLO, but there seems to be consensus that the coaching is also excellent.

I disagree with "Fair for All"'s assessment of why non-profit SOLO might be a better pool operator for the community than for-profit Menlo Swim & Sport. Either operator will have the same amount of leeway to schedule services as their management staff desires. In Menlo Swim & Sport's case one can argue that capitalism will drive the allocation of pool space/time so as to meet the communities' proportionate interest in each activity, and to serve as much of the community as possible. Isn't this what we want? A non-profit's only requirement is to balance expenses with income. If the non-profit's board or coaching staff don't want to expand or grow into new areas, there seems to be little incentive the community has to influence them to do so. Given that we have an excellent and proven operator in Menlo Swim & Sport already running the whole gamut of services that Menlo Park users want, why would we change it?

Finally, I would echo Mike Fero's comment that the solution seems to be to keep Menlo Swim & Sport as an operator but maintain the competitive pricing and access available for SOLO. That way MP users get the advantage of having the choice between two very good age-group teams.


Posted by Jon, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm

The bottom line is that SOLO program is needed by all the kids that want to do competitive swimming and the city of Menlo Park should make sure this wonderful program does not disappear from our town. If the city decides that Menlo Swim & Sport will continue to operate the pool, then SOLO needs to have a fair access to the pool (reasonable prices and acceptable number of hours as well as lanes), and it is the city's responsibility to make sure that happens.


Posted by Far Westerner A, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Addressing Long Term Residents comments,
I'm fifteen and Ive been swimming with SOLO for 8 years and all of this is baloney. Coach Tom is a great coach and is extremely nice.He has never thrown any swimmer's items in the pool. He is great with normal swimmers and he never pushes people to work harder then he thinks will be comfortable for them. He's never yelled at me or any swimmer on the team.In worst case scenario he will send a swimmer home who is being disobedient or a disturbance.


Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 28, 2010 at 6:51 am

The USG does not require cost and pricing data on Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Contracts. It only requires such on Cost Reimbursable Contracts (CRC).

As I understand it the pool proposals are for FFP contracts. If that is the case then the City of Menlo Park is not entitled to that information. It is none of its damn business.

Also the profit vs. non profit argument is specious. No one should care how much profit the operator makes. We should only be concerned with how much the pool operation costs given ceteris paribus conditions.

And as usual, Pogo has demonstrated, once again, superlative reasoning.

Morris,

That Dog Won't Hunt!

Have you been talking with Kelly & Heyward?


Hank


Posted by SOLO fan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 10:43 am

Tom is a superb swim and life coach to youth. In all the many years our son swam with SOLO, we didn't once see any of the negative behavior attributed to him by an anonymous poster above. It really isn't necessary to tear people down to make the case for someone else.

In any event, we are painfully aware that SOLO's youth-oriented programs have great difficulty getting appropriate times and adequate lanes from Sheeper. This issue must be remedied in the new contract.

The city should ensure that the Menlo Park community is served FIRST, local youth are served a close second (through SOLO), and a for-profit adult program drawing swimmers from numerous communities is served last. After all, even if some rent is paid for the facility by the operator, the taxpayers of Menlo Park are bearing the burden of paying for the pools - not the others from outside of Menlo Park who understandably love the new pools but were willing to swim in Atherton and Redwood City previously.


Posted by Research Minded, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

I'm a little surprised by the angst some posters have regarding the fees charged SOLO for lane time at Burgess. If you assume SOLO pays $8/lane-hour for 65 lane-hours/week for a total of 52 weeks, this only amounts to $27,040 / year.

A little digging on the internet and you can find the 2009 IRS 990-EZ form for "SOLO Swim Club" (guidestar.org provides this for free). In the 2009 form, total revenue was $309,887, while "occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance" was only $23,010 so my previous assumption was an overestimate. This is only 7.4% of total revenue, so the fees are primarily going to other expenses.

Just the facts, no hype.



Posted by Adam Kerr, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 28, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I applaud "SOLO fan"'s sentiment regarding unsubstantiated negative criticism offered by anonymous posters---it is uncalled for and unhelpful in this discussion of the relative merits of two good respondents to the RFP.

However, I do take issue with your comment regarding "for-profit adult programs". The adult swimmers I know that I share a lane with on the "Menlo" Masters team are all local tax-paying residents. The masters' team also swims at hours not appropriate for youth swimmers; namely 5:45AM, 7:00AM, 12:00PM and 7:00PM on weekdays. Youth instruction times are set in the early afternoons and on weekends. This is clearly a working solution in my opinion, so I'm not sure what changes you would propose. I would certainly not support a proposal that would bump all adult swimmers in lieu of providing only youth swim time. We adults are the taxpayers after all.

While I don't understand the history or facts of the lane access and fee dispute, it seems the present situation with SOLO having half the lanes during the peak youth instruction times is fair, or am I missing something? And doesn't SOLO already have similar pool time at the local community high school? And according to "Research Minded" rent is not a significant part of SOLO expenses. If you are suggesting that SOLO take over all youth instruction that seems to just eliminate choice for Menlo Park parents.


Posted by SOLO fan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 12:25 pm

The primary issue has been access to adequate lanes at reasonable times for youth. SOLO is a much larger program. Sheeper may be a great in many ways but not as a landlord for this fabulous youth program.


Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm

SOLO fan is correct that the primary issue is adequate lane access at reasonable rates. From a parent's perspective, another key issue is access to information-- including lane schedules. It is my understanding that SOLO management requested to know what our lane schedule would be back in early to mid summer but did not find out the final schedule until late September. As a parent juggling multiple kids' soccer, ballet and swimming schedules, that makes my life difficult. Hopefully that kind of delay won't happen in the future.

It also seems reasonable for the public to have access to SOLO information through Burgess the way PASA information is available through Rinconada. There is information about privately run triathlon programs available in the Burgess foyer and on the website, but SOLO is not there. There is actually a link to SOLO from the Menlo Swim & Sport site (Web Link) but the link has been broken / page not found for about 5 months and you would need to know the exact URL because you can't navigate there. I first alerted the office about this back in 2008 but unfortunately it hasn't been ironed out yet. I've also asked if information can be included in the newsletter, but that hasn't happened yet. Hopefully those things can get ironed out.

It seems to me that providing the community with access to information on all the programs available is a good thing and would avoid some problems that have come up when parents have called to register their kids on the SOLO team and have inadvertently been enrolled on the Mavericks team. Menlo Park offers a lot of great programs-- from Masters programs, to waterpolo, to triathlon training and of course, a USA competitive swim team. Lets get the information out there.


Posted by Ellie Draper, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Tim Sheeper is a vital community asset. Were the City of MP to let him go, they would lose a man of exceptional energy, imagination, and character. He has turned Burgess Pool into a wonderful resource. Also, his staff is always courteous and professional

Awarding the Burgess Park contract to Tom MacRae would be a step backwards. Tom's a pleasant enough guy and a good swimming coach, but he doesn't have the management experience or business acumen to do this job — at least not up to the standards we've seen set by Tim Sheeper.

I've swum in community pools all over the world. All I can say is: Menlo Park: you don't know how good you've got it.


Posted by Research Minded, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm


I'm curious. Ms. Glanville calls for reasonable rates and access for SOLO. The article reports a 75% discount of $8/lane-hour and that they have over half of the performance pool lanes during the youth instructional block.

What fees do you think SOLO should be charged? And how much more access would you like?

A conservative estimate of operational costs for the pool would be at least $400,000/annually which has to be borne by all programs. This doesn't include the additional $240,000/annual rent that Menlo Park would like to receive.


Posted by swimmer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm

As I understand it, SOLO uses MA high school for its 1st pool and Burgess for its 2nd pool. I can see great passion from SOLO partisans to get more pool time at Burgess for less cost. But there is heavy use of pool time at Burgess. Pool time gained by SOLO is pool time lost by another Burgess community member. SOLO is based in Menlo Park but it is really an area team. SOLO swimmers come from the area surrounding Menlo Park. There are 12 pool complexes I know of in the immediate area, including at least 4 complexes with 50 meter pools. If SOLO is not getting what it wants at Burgess it should be easy enough to investigate the market for pool time and cost at the other 10 pools in the immediate area.


Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:03 pm

"Research Minded"-- I'm not sure if you read my post. My main point was about access to information on SOLO.

"Swimmer" mentioned that pool time gained by SOLO takes away from another community member. Please keep in mind that Menlo Swim and Sport has added the Menlo Maverick's swim team which has complicated the space allocation. Not good or bad-- just more complicated.

I wish folks would just use their names on these posts-- it would feel so much more like a dialogue.


Posted by Disgusted, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:22 pm

It is interesting how we the taxpayers footed the bill for a community pool, yet now it is being run like a private country club and no one seems to care.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Glanville states:"I wish folks would just use their names on these posts-- it would feel so much more like a dialogue."

How true. Unfortunately this Forum has become a refuge for the anonymous posters to state their views without accountability.


Posted by jerry, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Questions for Mr. Morris Brown.

1. How much money do you think is appropriate for the manager of the Burgess pool operation to draw?

2. After the draw and other expenses, if the Burgess pool operation is profitable how is it distributed?

3. After the draw and other expenses, if the Burgess pool operation runs a deficit how is it distributed?


Posted by Ano Nymous, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2010 at 11:50 pm

The following announcement was sent out under the banner, and by the email address, of "Menlo Swim and Sport" (i.e., Tim Sheeper), not the City of Menlo Park. This clearly implied that Mr. Sheeper is taking credit for this development, when, just as with the pool complex, the gym was paid for by taxpayers (along with Mr. Arrillaga).

What has Tim Sheeper got to do with the new gym complex? Are we also turning this over to him to profit from?


Posted by Ano Nymous, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Sorry, forgot to attach the announcement. Here it is:
_____________________________________________________________
Announcing the launch of Menlo Fit with Boot Camp and Kids FItness at the new Arrillaga Family Gym.

Dear Friend:
Menlo Fit, in partnership with Menlo Swim and Sport, invites you to join us at the new Menlo Park Gym.

Starting Monday, Nov 8 come on over for an amazing special offer, our 21-Day Boot Camp for The Holidays. This kick-off program gets you 21 consecutive days of unlimited access to our boot camp classes for just $97. That's 24 classes per week!

Boot Camp at Menlo Fit is a seriously fun way to start your day, with coaches that modify the workouts as needed for your fitness level, skills, and needs. We educate, motivate, and create a team environment for sure-fire success in getting fit, losing weight, and feeling great!

Every morning, Mon-Fri, you can choose from four 50-minute Adult Boot Camp classes starting at 6am. Come to any (or all!) of them for three weeks to get in shape for the holidays, now for only $97.

And not only do we have Adult Boot Camp, we have two kids programs. Our Moms' Gym Preschool Fitness class is included with our 21-Day special. Come work out with your child for fun, healthy bonding and fitness, all in one! And our Kids Boot Camp is a fun way for kids to develop self confidence, strength, and coordination. For children who can walk through age 4.

Register today and start on November 8 or any time before the end of November (last day to sign up for our kick-off special!).


Posted by Veronica, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2010 at 6:13 am

My two daughters (ages 9 and 7) have participated with Solo for many years - 4 years is my guess. Anyways, we all have been happy with the program. I was glancing at the previous posts and find it unbelievable that Coach Tom would throw belongings in the water. I have never heard of or seen this. My girls have loved all of their Solo coaches and we hope to enjoy many more years with Solo.


Posted by Janelle, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Our daughters swim with SOLO 3 days a week. They absolutely LOVE it, and love Coach Robert. He keeps the practices fun, and they have been invited, but never pressured, to compete. During the girls' swim practice, I use the remaining lanes as a lap swimmer. In winter, I often have a lane to myself. Even in the height of summer, only sometimes is it necessary to circle swim. There is almost always a lane open for free play, although often there are very few people in it. I feel the current set-up is serving both SOLO and Sheeper programs AND the community very well. Admission to the pool and swim team fees are reasonable. Let's do what it takes to keep a good thing going.


Posted by MKC, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Nov 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Solo has been a major part of our family for the past 15 yrs.
We have had 2 children swim with Tom over the last 15 yrs and have spent thousands of hours at the pool. We have one son who is a senior
still swimming for Tom and he will continue to swim competitively
in college, thanks to Tom. We are so fortunate to have a swim club like Solo and a head coach like Tom. Tom and the SOLO community are absolutely devoted to the success and well being of the program and these children. Please support SOLO in their bid for the Burgess pool space so this program can continue to grow, serve the community and foster the love of swimming for the youth in our area.
There are very few programs anywhere that do what SOLO does.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

The dress code
By Jessica T | 26 comments | 2,070 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,448 views

College Freshmen: Avoiding the Pitfalls
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,247 views

Council election, and then some.
By Stuart Soffer | 5 comments | 485 views

Those Constantly Pulling the Race Card
By Martin Lamarque | 0 comments | 20 views