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Menlo plans to renew Team Sheeper pool contract

Original post made on Jan 14, 2011

Team Sheeper will continue to operate the Burgess pool, and add the Belle Haven pool to its roster, under a revised contract that may head to the Menlo Park council for approval next month.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 14, 2011, 11:03 AM

Comments (55)

Posted by Tom Haid, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Team Sheeper will continue to operate the Burgess pool

Posted by Guppigirl, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Excellent news! Hopefully we can all move on now and focus on swimming. :)

Posted by fox, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Good news. Now let's do the same for West Menlo childcare.

Posted by asd, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I attended the council meeting where all citizens were to be allowed to give their input. When I arrived, on time, I was told there was no space for any more speakers on the agenda and that, as a result, a group of SOLO supporters had left in disgust. The agenda was filled by Mr. Sheeper's swim team members. I believe one SOLO supporter got a slot. He politely used his time to represent SOLO, saying, roughly, that SOLO simply wanted timely space for their swim team to practice, timely space to give private lessons and equal space to advertise on the pool bulletin board. Though Mr. Sheeper has agreed to give the SOLO team practice space, he continues to block SOLO from providing private lessons and he continues to marginalize families coming to the pool for open swim. It's disappointing that a private vendor is being allowed to control a City resource in a way that doesn't fully meet the needs of the community whose taxes paid for it. Shame on you, Mr Sheeper, for marginalizing families who just want a place to take their families to swim on a hot day and for blocking the relatively small SOLO community from using a little pool space for private lessons. I guess we won't be swimming at Burgess *again* this summer.

Posted by mp lifequard, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

well that sucks for those of us who guarded for the city. now we have to reaplly to a different organization, and get paid less

Posted by Get Real, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm

asd - I think I will arrange your initials to "sad", as in you are a sad and lonely individual in an overwhelming crowd of Menlo Park residents who know we have the best aquatics program on the peninsula. Thank goodness the parks & rec commission listened to reason. And I can't believe you are insinuating that the Menlo Swim & Sport supporters somehow influenced city council policy of listening to *all* residents who want to comment. The most that happens is they get time limited (see Web Link). Likewise, the rest of your rant is without basis.

Posted by Entertained, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Well it sounds like a win all the way around. I just hope there will be more free swim time available for kids in the summer. Two lanes in the lap pool are simply not enough and the hours last summer were too limited.

Posted by Sheeper's Laughing All The Way To The Bank, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm

So let's see: Taxpayers shell out $6.8 million for this facility and now, over 10 years, Sheeper will pay us a measly $360k in rent - just 5% of the cost of this Taj Mahal - while also charging us country club-rates to use the pool.

Makes the TARP bailout seem like child's play.

Posted by lookin on, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

"Sheeper's Laughing All The Way To The Bank" has it exactly right.

What else would you expect from the incompetence that our City always exhibits. Sheeper was paying $100,000 per year before he latched on to the MP pool. Why didn't they examine his personal and also the Club's tax records to see just how much money he was coining.

In any case, our gutless council won't object --- anything staff puts forward they endorse.

Posted by drydock, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:00 pm

This is a great win for Tim and the master swimmers who belong to his private club and loss for all MP residents who would like to enjoy recreational swimming once in a while. Can you imagine renting a $7mm home for $3k/month? A joke. Our council has once again failed to negotiate on behalf of the people it allegedly serves.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2011 at 4:41 am

asd statses:"When I arrived, on time, I was told there was no space for any more speakers on the agenda"

The Brown Act REQUIRES:

" C. Public Testimony
Every agenda for a regular meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item under the subject matter jurisdiction of the body. With respect to any item which is already on the agenda, or in connection with any item which the body will consider pursuant to the exceptions
contained in section 54954.2(b), the public must be given the opportunity to comment before or during the legislative body's consideration of the item. (§ 54954.3(a).) The body may establish procedures for public comment as well as specifying reasonable time limitations on particular topics or individual speakers. So long as the body acts fairly with respect to the interest of the
public and competing factions, it has great discretion in regulating the time and manner, as distinguished from the content, of testimony by interested members of the public."

IF all sides were not given equal opportunity to comment then any subequent action taken by the council would be in violation of the Brown Act and would be, if challenged, null and void.

Posted by Non elite swimmer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

It is sad to see the back room deal forged by the Deboc/Winkler council continue. Sheeper has not maintained the Burgess pool thus far (see prior articles in the Almanac) and has no time for any community member who is not a part of his elite alhletic organization.

Basically, we the Menlo Park taxpayers get to foot the utility and maintenance bills for both pools and unless we also pay for Sheeper's programs, we are high and dry.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:13 am

IF the opponents of this arrangement are not given equal time to make public comments on this BEFORE the council acts to award this contract then the council's action would violate the Brown Act and, if challenged, the decision would be subject to being declared null and void.

Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

3k / month for 10 years? Without any escalation?

Who pays utilities and maintenance? Is 3 k on top of the rent he paid fr the offices portion?

If he's paying a fixed 3k for 10 years, then why aren't city salaries frozen for 10 years?

Good going whoever negotiated this faulty agreement.

Posted by due diligence?, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

How did the city confirm that the rates charged for community activities is comparable with other public facilities (NOT comparable to country clubs)? This is a minimum expectation for a for-profit entity using a publicly funded facility.
Also, how does the "rent" compare with the annual debt payment costs related to the building of the facility?
The city is in the driver seat here and should get a good deal for the taxpayers.

Posted by Drydock, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

The rent no way equates to the carrying cost of the debt (that we, the residents, are repaying) It's a weak effort to silence the complaints of those who complained about Sheeper getting a brand new facility for free. Now the city can say "see, we are charging him rent."

Two important considerations are lacking here:

* Sheeper should pay market rents for the facility

* The city should have oversight into the hours and programming. In other cities with a public-private partnership, the city has considerable input into the process, ensuring that the facility is not run as a private club.

This facility has proven to be a gold mine for Sheeper, and of course he is willing to invest whatever energy is required to court council members and city staff. The fact that the rest of us -- the taxpayers who are working to pay for his facility -- are unable to expend the same effort should not result in our being given less consideration. It's our money; it should be our pool.

Posted by Sheeper's Laughing All The Way To The Bank, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm

"It's our money; it should be our pool."

Well stated!

Any council member out there have the cojones to respond (Mayor Cline???)

Posted by Sheeper's Laughing All The Way To The Bank, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm

And to The Almanac:
Anyone got the cojones to take this disgrace on as well - or do you intend to do another front-page fluff piece on Mr. Sheeper???

Posted by SOTY, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

You guys are off the mark. The City issued an RFP. Sheeper and SOLO responded. The City chose Sheeper and negotiated a deal. The process was open and taxpayers were invited to participate at every turn. There was no back room deals; the process was open and compliant.

Bottom line: the City negotiated the best deal possible given the RFP responses. If you think you can do better, run for office. Or, similarly, respond to the next RFP if you think you can manage the pool operations.

My guess is that in the give and take called negotiations, Sheeper made concessions on some issues to create a framework which allows for a fair profit over the contract's duration. I'm sure he's not without risk and likely accepting of terms he'd prefer weren't present.

Posted by 10-years ?, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 16, 2011 at 12:36 am

Ten years is to long of a contract for a city own fairly new building especially at the cheap price of $3K per month. What is the city paying Sheeper to operate the Belle Haven Pool for a pitiful 3 months out of 12 (the article didn't mention him paying rent for that facility) Shame on you Parks & Rec!!! Wake up City Council!!! Sheeper is getting another sweetheart deal!!!

Posted by henry Fox, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm

It used to cost the city $350,000 to $500,000/yr to run the pool and another $90,000/yr to run the Bellehaven pool. Now the city minimally saves $450,000yr. to have Sheeper run it, not counting the rent he will pay.

How can anyone fault that?

Posted by drydock, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm

It is specious reasoning to look at the old costs, since a substantial percentage was devoted to maintenance on a pool that was constantly needing repair. Many neighboring cities -- Redwood City and Palo Alto for starters -- have consistently broken even or made money on pool operations.

But of course the city's primary focus is to provide services, not to make a profit. When the city ran the pool, the facility was generally available to the public. You could bring your kids to the pool and have space for them to play. No more! Tim Sheeper can't make enough profit from that kind of use, so he limits recreational use to a tiny corner of the pool.

I have no problem with outsourcing per se. But the third party vendor needs to be covering the costs with his rent -- we shouldn't be subsidizing him. And public needs should take priority over master swimmer demands.

Posted by Madeleine, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 17, 2011 at 6:40 am

The heater has been broken at the outdoor Burgess Pool for the last two days. They say it won't be fixed until tomorrow.

Posted by due diligence, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:00 am

drydock makes some excellent points. The Council should ensure that the taxpayers are not continuing to subsidize this for-profit enterprise both by minimizing public swim times for for-profit masters and private programs and by not obtaining at a minimum the carrying costs of the debt for the facility.
City staff are terrible negotiators. THe Council must ensure a good deal.

Posted by seriously..., a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Instead of all this tiresome finger pointing can the ALMANAC just post the numbers for this situation? How much does the pool cost to run?

How do you figure that costs have been lowered?? Apparently there were design faults in the facilities that were handed over to a private concern to run thus passing that liability on to Sheeper.

Is this right?
If previously the city paid It used to cost the city $350,000 to $500,000/yr to run the pool and another $90,000/yr to run the Bellehaven pool. Now the city minimally saves $450,000yr. to have Sheeper run it, not counting the rent he will pay.

Previously did you all swim for free because you paid taxes?? Or was that $450,000 actually covered by your swimming habits?

Everyone wants "privatization" everyone wants to shift the tax burdens to the individual. Well congratulation! You've managed to do that in your own backyard. Who else was stepping up to run your pool? Hopefully thanks to the savings the city cut your taxes (yeah... as if!)

I think there are some of you who will just have to deal with the fact that your fellow voters essentially voted that YOU get to help really pay for the pool. Join and then if you have the numbers, get some changes in the hours for recreational swim. I think it's called capitalism. Money talks.... more than people.

There are other pools you can join. Look around.

Posted by Sheeper's Laughing All The Way To The Bank, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm


This is the same old apples vs. oranges arguement:

That $350-500k figure is for the OLD pool (old as in lots of maintenance issues) that was being run as a true COMMUNITY POOL (virtually free entrance to residents).

Now this is a BRAND NEW($6.8 million) SWIMMING COMPLEX (3 pools) being run as a COUNTRY CLUB (cha ching!) and for Sheepers own little group of elitists (at the expense of the common man).

Capitalism is when a PRIVATE enterprise fronts the money upfront and does the hard work to turn a profit. This is a case where government (re: you and I) paid for this sucker and now we are the suckers as Sheeper laughs all the way to the bank.

And while we argue vehemently over some stupid bureaucratic Brown Act violation, we're just letting this one go (why don't you give a --- about this, Peter Carpenter???).

Sign me, Disgusted.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Look, the City issued an RFP and received a whole TWO proposals. Yes, just TWO. So, they made the best deal they could with one of the respondents. If you don't like the deal they made then perhaps you should respond to the next RFP with a better deal for the city. I'm not holding my breath. Just keep pointing those fingers. Perhaps you should be upset with the council that decided to spend money on a publicly owned pool in the first place. Oh, that's right, most of you thought it was a great idea at the time.

Posted by Joan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Wait a minute, isn't everyone jumping the gun here? Yes, Sheeper obviously came up with the better of the two proposals, in the eyes of city staff. But staff doesn't make the final decision on the contract, does it? Isn't the council the one that approves a contract?

My suggestion is that those of you who are justifiably outraged over the low cost of the lease email the council, show up to speak at oral communications at council meetings before the council votes on the contract, and attend the council meeting the council will take action at, and let your opinions be heard. This should not be considered a done deal. The council has yet to act. Terms of the contract can be different from what the staff is recommending. The people who paid for this pool complex should be better served by it than what the staff is recommending.

Posted by Anna, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2011 at 7:35 am

I don't know if what I heard is correct, but I was told that the RFP from Sheeper offered to pay a rent of $3,000/month, while the SOLO RFP was offering $20,000/month. If that is true, how does the city justifies the choice of Sheeper to the tax payers?
Can we find out more about this?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 18, 2011 at 7:51 am

I would recommend everyone here making accusations of back door deals, favoritism and cries of "our money, our pool" make their way down to Burgess and enjoy a swim in the beautiful pool. I guarantee that when you are done, you will feel great. Perhaps even a little bit better about life in general and consider the possibility that maybe... just maybe... the contract is fair, Tim is doing a darn good job running the facility, and customer satisfaction is extremely high. It is possible, right?

It just can't be any fun to go through life thinking the world is made up of a bunch of crooks. So go for a swim. Life is too short.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 18, 2011 at 8:17 am

Don't forget that you can "fiddle" too!

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2011 at 8:47 am

I've been biting my tongue for a few days as I've read most of these posts. I probably should continue to do so, but I can't. First, people were upset because the City entered in to an agreement for management of the pool which was financed with public money with a private contractor. When the resulting public services made available by the private contractor proved to be superior, people still complained saying that doesn't matter, we the people should be getting some of the revenue from the asset; thus a outcry to put the operation out to bid. So, the City put it out to bid. Now, because the incumbent contractor (who if you know anything about competitive bidding practices usually does have the advantage of knowing more details) won the bid, everyone is back to the arguement that (1) we the people aren't getting enough money, and (2) must have been a back room deal. The total lack of business savey among many of the posters on this forum is downright scary at times.

Posted by drydock, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:01 am

"When the resulting public services made available by the private contractor proved to be superior."

Nope, the problem wass that the services were markedly inferior, unless you were a member of Tim's master swim group. Regular recreational swimmers have been edged out of the pool, and Solo -- which was supposed to be given substantial accommodations in the original contract (a fact that Sheeper evidently ignored to the extent possible) -- has been given cattle car status. My family used to hang out at the old pool, with all its warts, but kids beyond tot pool age can't have much fun at Sheeper's club because there is no room for them to play.

I do not know how widely the RFP was disseminated, given that the only bidders were the two existing swim groups. The RFP should have stated that a minimum bid would have to cover carrying costs. That's just basic arithmetic, not to mention fairness for taxpayers.

By the way, those of us who allude to backroom deals are not victims of too much late night television. We're just folks who were around in 2006 and remember what happened.

Stanford MBA here. And you?

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:06 am

There is nothing improper about a public agency, responding to public pressure, simply turning down all of the current bids and issuing a new and improved RFP. The current operator could be retained on a month-to-month basis pending the award of a new contract.

The key issue is do enough Menlo Park citizens actually give a damn to force the council to turn down thee current bids and issue a new contract?

Posted by Encinal mom, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

It is unfortunate that this article does not provide relevant details for the public to understand the trade-off to the community by awarding the contract to Sheeper in this way.

It is true that Solo will continue to have its M-F swim time, but they are losing much more in this contract. They will lose all practice time during the summer and practice time for older kids in the fall - at least that is what we know about for the first year of the contract. Solo could continue meeting the needs of Menlo Park children aged 5-17, but they need to maintain swim time that they had in the past. The reason why their swim time is being cut is that Sheeper is allocating time for "his" competitive swim program that he started 5 years ago when he took over Burgess (despite Solo being in full operation).

Solo is a proven (20 years), highly effective, non-profit, competitive swim program that motivates children regardless of whether they want to be Olympic swimmers, swim for a sense of community or swim because it is great exercise. If you want proof of its effectiveness just stop by and watch a practice. The Solo coaches understand kids and know how to motivate them.

It might be reasonable for the City to offer opportunities for competing swim programs if space was not an issue, but it is. Solo has proven through time to be an exceptional swim program for children and so why is the City giving Sheeper the option to push Solo out? This is not an elite triathalon competition - this is community, these are our kids.

In the Solo RFP Menlo Masters and Sheeper's triathalon program were left untouched (supported if you will). Why can't Sheeper offer Solo the same level of respect for a program that meets an important community need - children?

Posted by Joan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

Comments declaring that Sheeper's program is "superior" are reflective of a very narrow focus. I have no doubt that his management of the pool is superior for members of his club, but is that why taxpayers agreed to foot the nearly $7 million bill for the pools? What is the community at large getting for its $7 million?

The article I'd like to see written would include a comparison of what other city-owned pools in the area charge for members of the community to come and swim. When voters passed the bond measure that made the pools possible, and a priority, that's what they had every right to expect -- a pool complex with access for people and kids who just want to swim, recreationally. At a fair and reasonable cost.

If the city doesn't address the cost for recreational swimming and access to the pools for recreational swimming in coming up with a new contract, it's not serving the public's interest. It is serving Sheeper's interests. No matter how conscientious he is in providing a "superior" program, that program for the most part serves his elite, and not necessarily the general public that paid for the facilities.

Posted by due diligence, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

It is way out of line to accuse writers in this thread of saying there was a backroom deal, this time around anyway.

The questions are reasonable ones to ask - are the rates for community access comparable to those of other public pools, how much access do the residents of MP have for swimming and how do these compare to other public pools? After all, this is a public pool.

I am appalled if the city is permitting the demise of the SOLO program. It is outstanding, and as one pointed out, not for the elite but for any youth. This program is a true community asset and should be allowed to thrive. Sheeper has plenty of other ways to make money on his own programs.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

This is not a back room deal - it is being done in full sight of the public and it will proceed unless those that are concerned get off their duffs and go to the council meeting and speak out. And it would be even better if they don't just complain but actually offer some suggestions as to how a new RFP could be improved.

We get exactly the kind of government that we deserve.

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I want to clarify something related to my previous post. I referred to the Sheeper program as "superior"as rated by their clients. I did not mean that I considered it superior, I don't swim there and have no basis of knowledge. In previous posts back when this subject was being debated as the City prepared the RFP, I was very vocal in my criticism of what appeared to me to be a conversion of a public pool to a country club. I firmly believe the pool should be there for families to enjoy first, and then those with the competitive spark who want to form teams and compete, second. However, it is my understanding that the City developed the RFP that was the basis for bids using an approach that invited/encouraged public input. That input basically told the City staff, here is the kind of program we want specificed. Sheeper's product is a superior one for the kind of program that was specified. Don't blame the staff or Sheeper because you didn't provide input to the process. You know who to blame.

Posted by asd, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

As a person who has gone from pool to pool and program to program auditing and actually trying swim programs to find the right one for my child, (YMCA, Green Meadow, Ladera Oaks, Peninsula swim school, Burgess and SOLO) I take offense at the continued use of the word "superior" in reference to the Burgess childrens swim program - particularly in the absence of criteria for what constitutes "superior." In any case, if SOLO is excluded from the community pool, the community may not realize what a great option they are for kids.

SOLO had a well-established childrens' program at Burgess - prior to Mr. Sheeper taking over the pool. If Mr. Sheeper is confident that his program is superior, than giving SOLO the space and time slots to provide childrens programming, as the original contract stipulated, won't be a big deal. Let the customer decide.

Why can't SOLO have what they were promised? And why isn't the city overseeing how Mr. Sheeper allocates time and space - for classes and for open swim.

Posted by what is really going on, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Mr. Carpenter really doesn't know what is going on here.

This is really a back room deal, now being exposed by the Parks and Rec committee. Staff has not adhered to what was promised.

Also, when Sheeper was first awarded the contract in a no-bid, back room deal brokered by DuBoc and Winkler, we were give the story that after the contract expired we would then know the true financial picture.

So where is the true evidence how how much money Sheeper through his personal and Menlo Masters program are coining. He should have been forced to offer up his personal tax returns and that of his programs, so that the City could get a true financial picture.

This pool is a $8 million tax payer paid facility and certainly the City should get a fair deal for it use. $3000 per month --- Really!!

Nuts to including the Belle Haven facility as a cost saving measure. Put it out to bid separately. If its not being used, then shut it down.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm

This contract MUST come before the council in open session. People who are concerned about should show up and speak out. And it would be helpful if you were prepared to offer specific recommendations as to what should be changed.

IF no one shows up then don't complain when the council approves the contract that has been negotiated by the staff.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

It may be useful to remember that the Menlo Masters Swim Team offered to pay for and rebuild the Burgess pool when the city didn't seem able to put the facility back into commission on it own.
There was a big uproar from from a few residents that were concerned that the team might be from "a scary exercise cult", so the city rejected the offer and finally rebuilt it themselves.

Posted by what is really going on, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm

What Menlo Masters wanted to do, as being led by Sam Sinnot and wife, was to have a 50 meter Olympic sized pool built. What they offered was they claimed was that sized pool could be built for very little extra, and that the City was nuts to build a 30 meter pool. Of course, only competitive sports teams need a 50 meter pool. What finally killed that effort was City staff insisting that a 50 meter pool would require an EIR, and so the proposal died. Menlo Masters certainly could not have financed the pool on its own.

If the City had built a 50 Meter pool, there would certainly not be a new Gym. This was one of the major debacles of the DuBoc/Winkler/Jellins era.

Solo was shoved aside, even though they are a local Menlo Park group, whereas, Sheeper's group has a much wider regional membership.

City staff presented a false set of operating costs at the time of the original contract, claiming at least twice the losses for the pool than would have occurred.

This all smells bad again.

Peter is extremely naive to believe that this has been a fully transparent process. As I wrote before, until full financials for the operation of the previous 5 years are exposed, we won't know what is or is not a fair contract. Certainly what has been proposed here, 10 years at $3000 per month is garbage. Certainly access to programs other than those of Sheeper are being short changed. This all in a publicly financed facility.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I did not claim that the entire process has been transparent but I do challenge those who are opposed to get off their duffs and talk to their council members and show up in force at the council meeting - the proponents will certainly be there in force.

This is democracy at work and the Brown Act ensures that the approval process will be public and that public input must be heard before a decision is made.

Naive - no
Skeptical that people care enough to work to get a good contract - yes

Posted by Ed, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 22, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I've got kids who take lessons and I'm relatively happy with the services, except for three things that are a big annoyance:
1) It seems as though there should be a much more SIGNIFICANT discount for Menlo Park residents given that we subsidize(d) the facility
2) As others have remarked -- the options for open swim for kids to just go out and have fun are extremely limited
3) Kids develop a relationship with the instructors -- yet there is no option to ask for a particular instructor. Well, you CAN ask, but they probably will ignore you -- at least that's what they tell us, you can't request an instrutor. Especially with really young kids this makes a big difference.

Posted by Holly Golightly, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 23, 2011 at 7:28 am

This is a wonderful deal for the City of Menlo Park.

With Sheeper operating the swim facilities, the city won't have to make any UNION PENSION contributions.

Chew on that for a bit.

I'd like to see more city functions privatized!

Posted by due diligence, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

The issue is not whether outsourcing the operation of the pool is preferable to keeping it inhouse. It is whether the negotiations to date have resulted in a good deal for the taxpayers of Menlo Park.
Has the staff has not done the simplest of due diligence to determine how much time do residents get to use the Burgess pool and for what purposes (community use vs Sheeper programs), how do the rates for community uses compare with other community pools, what are the carrying costs of the Burgess facility. The Council should require this information before it discusses the proposed contract so that it could, if appropriate, require additional negotiations. The Almanac could help by providing this information.
The taxpayers of Menlo Park are paying for the Burgess facility. They deserve to get their money's worth for access to it, at comparable rates to other community pools. I have no doubt that Sheeper can make a profit by raising rates for his for-profit programs, and he could host some or all of them at the Belle Haven facility.

Posted by Still in Disbelief, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Wow, Solo gets equal bulletin board space in the lobby? I don't think that's exactly the victory they were going for. What they really need is more dedicated pool space and time to provide their popular community program! Why can't the Menlo Park council make this happen? Can't they write it into the Sheeper contract? How about also writing in the requirement for a certain amount of free-swim time for kids and families? I think a few parameters were missing from the RFP.

Posted by Dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm

After reading the link in the almanac article that lays out some of the details of the contract, it appears that many of the disgruntled posters could have their questions and factual inaccuracies clarified for them. Unless the staff have prepared a deceptive document, it appears that the comment section is full of factual errors (I shouldn't be shocked, but sometimes it happens anyway). Most notable to me is the one about SOLO losing practice time over the summer. I only know what's in the document on line, but it looks to me like they get 50 weeks a year of 6 lanes M-F access. I'm strictly a recreational swimmer (like, I play in the water with my 6 year old) so maybe that's not what Encinal mom was referring to. And kudos to Peter trying to nudge the disgruntled taxpayers off the couch. Be an informed griper. Its better for everyone.

Posted by E., a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Solo did make a proposal to run Burgess offering $20,000 rent per month. The question is: why did city staff completely ignored it? I guess they really like Sheeper....

Posted by MP Swimmer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 6:50 am

Sorry but SOLO has it's own agenda too. There's a reason why the M-A coaches want SOLO out of their pool too. It starts with the SOLO head coach and goes from there.

I appreciate the parents who are trying to get time for SOLO. But they need to understand that the rest of the swimming and water polo professionals in the area do not get along with the SOLO guy.

Posted by due diligence, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 7:42 am

Wow. MP Swimmer - you are really out of line criticizing the SOLO coach. He is absolutely revered by youth and parents who have experienced his inspirational swim and life coaching.

There is a natural tension between water polo and swim folks who want use of the same pool but can't do so at the same time.
The Council must focus on how the proposed contract benefits the residents and taxpayers of Menlo Park. The community authorized building a new pool so residents could use it. The amount of access, rates charged, and rent paid relative to carrying costs matter. A lot.

Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 9:25 am

Some of your questions were answered in our follow-up story:

Web Link

As for whether the city was right in deciding SOLO couldn't sustain a monthly payment of $20,000 - I've asked SOLO numerous times now for a look at their finances, and for a breakdown of lane hours. They have yet to provide them.

Posted by Get Real, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2011 at 10:33 am

Would people please, please read the Menlo Park staff report? It is amazing what hysteria is flying around out there. It also smells of a disinformation campaign by SOLO members trying to stir up support for their unfair demands.

Read the report! Web Link

SOLO is the one asking that any competitive team offered by Menlo Swim & Sport be removed. Boy, talk about willingness to share the pool!

SOLO gets a deal of $6/lane hour and they're complaining?? If you add up all the costs for pool access SOLO pays, it's less than 10% of their revenue. Do they somehow think it should be free? Unbelievable! I've got 3 kids all swimming on Mavericks--and guess what, I'm an MP resident and I'm happy to pay for our use of the pool! Amazing how some people want everyone else to pay for their kids' benefits.

And Menlo Swim & Sport are NOT getting the pools for 3k / month. They pay ALL the costs for the pool. The MP staff reviewed ALL of the Menlo Swim financials and came to the opinion that their budget could support 3K / mo and had only reasonable return to the operator---certainly WAY WAY less than what we'd be paying for city staff. And since when do "COMMUNITY" resources have to operate in such a way that they pay themselves off??? It's why it's a COMMUNITY resource---it's expected to be a sunk cost that city taxpayers make to improve their community. I'd certainly my taxes rather go there than city pensions!

So for all those gripers out there---stop the hysteria---get yourselves informed!

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