Burgess baby pool closed until May

Chlorine dispenser undergoing redesign to improve safety

Splish, splash, babies won't be taking a bath again in the Burgess baby pool any time soon, as indicated by aquatics center manager Tim Sheeper.

The pool's reopening is scheduled for May 2011, right about the time the facility's operating contract comes up for renewal, and 10 months after a chlorination malfunction put two children in the hospital.

The 2-year-old and 3-year-old sisters recovered from their Aug. 10 misadventure, and still take swim lessons at the center, according to Mr. Sheeper.

"Simply put, the pool was drawing in chlorine when it was not supposed to. The redesigns are to prevent this from happening," Mr. Sheeper wrote in an e-mail to The Almanac.

He said pool designers are currently comparing alternatives for dispensing chlorine that would fix the problem.

City Attorney Bill McClure said that under the terms of the lease, Team Sheeper is legally responsible for maintenance and incidents at the pools, and carries insurance to that effect.

The City Council in August agreed to request bids on the contract to manage the aquatics center after the current lease expires next May.

Four years ago the previous council awarded Team Sheeper the contract to operate the $6.8 million, publicly funded facility without charging rent or asking other vendors for bids.

The request for bids asks for rates to manage the Burgess pools alone, and also for both the Burgess and Belle Haven pools. City staff estimated a base monthly rent of $19,444.

Speaking before the council on Aug. 24, Community Services Director Cherise Brandell pointed out three other areas the next contract should improve: better communication with the contractor, particularly regarding maintenance; clarification of the split between city and contractor responsibilities; and following through on preparing annual reports about the facility.

The Council expects to award the new contract in December.

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Like this comment
Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 9:11 pm

1. The story should make clear whether the chlorine dispensing problem is a matter of maintenance for which the Sheeper organization is responsible or a matter of defects in the original design for which the City may be responsible.

2. The story should also describe the basis for the City's estimate of a "base rent" of $19,444. Is it based, for example, on some percentage of the average monthly gross revenues that have been experienced by the Sheeper organization over the term of the existing contract? Does it take into account that the Sheeper organization is relieving the City of the costs of managing and staffing the pool? If so, how is this accounted for?

Like this comment
Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

From the staff report on the RFP: "Finance staff have proposed a calculation of annual rent based on the pay off of a $7 million asset (with no interest expense) over a 30 year period of $233,333 per year or $19,444 per month."

Like this comment
Posted by Ano Nymous
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm

We have been attempting to discover, for the past several years, why "Team Sheeper" has not been charged rent from the outset. Why would anyone pay that much to build a facility, and then simply turn it over (without a bidding process), so that a private individual could profit from it? Any kickbacks to the members of the City Council? Parks and Rec? Where was our "staff" 4-5 years ago?

Also, we complained about the filters nearly two months ago, as the taste and feel of the water was clearly very odd, and different from that in any other pool with which we are familiar.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 24, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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