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File #: 2021-654   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Recreation and Park Commission
On agenda: 4/8/2021
Title: Review and Recommend Options for the Pools at Lincoln Park and Franklin Park
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Pool Locations, 2. Alameda Swimming Pool Association Lease Agreement

Title

 

Review and Recommend Options for the Pools at Lincoln Park and Franklin Park

 

Body

 

To: Honorable Chair and Members of the Recreation and Park Commission

 

From: Amy Wooldridge, Recreation and Parks Director

 

Re: Review and Recommend Options for the Pools at Lincoln Park and Franklin Park

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

In May 1959, the city leased land at Lincoln and Franklin Park (Exhibit 1) to the Alameda Swimming Pool Association (ASPA) to design, build and operate these two swimming facilities.  The construction of the pools was privately funded and led by Frank Weeden and Fred Stolte. The facilities have been operated and maintained since then by ASPA, a non-profit organization.  The current ASPA lease with the City of Alameda (City) is expiring in September 2021.  The City generates no revenue from this lease, except for water utility reimbursement.  ASPA is responsible for all maintenance of the pool facilities. 

 

ASPA is a member based organization with an annual fee of approximately $500 per year.  ASPA has about 600 families and sponsors the Gators Swim Team plus a variety of programs including lap swim, family swim, swim lessons and offers free Kindergarten swim and senior swim for which anyone can register, regardless of membership.  ASPA is reliant on volunteers and all members are required to volunteer a certain amount each year.  The current facilities have not had any major improvements since being built.  Repairs have been done such as concrete work and pump replacement but ASPA acknowledges that there are significant improvements needed, including water leaks at both pools. 

 

The State of California recently amended the Surplus Lands Act (SLA), effective January 2020, which impacts the options for the ASPA lease.  The purpose of SLA is to in part to address the affordable housing shortage in California.  It requires, with limited exceptions, that a sale or long-term lease of city owned property can only occur after the City has completed the statutorily required surplusing process.  The surplusing process in part requires the City to notify affordable housing developers and other public agencies (e.g. the school district and the park district) that the City Property is available for disposition.  If one or more of those entities expresses interest, the City must negotiate with them in good faith.  This is required regardless of the land’s zoning such as Open Space and Parks.  If there are no entities interested in the City property or if negotiations could not consummate a final transaction, the City could then move forward with a long-term lease agreement with ASPA or another private entity.  The SLA further requires that the City may not engage in negotiations with private entities, including ASPA, without first completing the surplusing process.   

 

DISCUSSION

 

The City has met with ASPA leadership and expressed concerns regarding the facility maintenance and safety protocols, a key holder system that allows members to enter and swim at any time (if they took certain classes such as CPR) and a lack of industry standard certified lifeguards.  In addition, as a membership based organization, there are concerns of lack of equity for those who cannot afford the membership fee.  There are also issues of residents interested in joining who are put on waiting lists and cannot access the pools due to capacity issues stemming from the membership model.  ASPA leadership has expressed that a public pool model in which residents can register by class, is not financially feasible which is why they continue the membership model.

 

At the July 2016 Recreation and Parks Commission meeting, several members of the public raised concerns about ASPA and asked for assistance to make it a more successful and transparent organization. Staff met with ASPA leadership at that time as well as with the concerned citizens and there were ideas generated for increased transparency and general optimism it would be implemented.  A report of this investigation was brought back to the Recreation and Parks Commission in November 2016.

 

Given the constraints of SLA, there are three options for the Franklin and Lincoln pool facilities. 

 

1)                     Begin the surplus process and continue with short-term leases with ASPA at 6-month intervals until the surplus process is completed.  These short-term leases are not a permanent solution but simply allow ASPA to continue operating while the City moves through the SLA process.  The City Attorney’s office already reviewed the SLA for any possible exemptions and determined there are none applicable given existing facts.  This surplusing process could take 6 - 18 months depending on any interested parties and the outcome is unknown of whether these sites would continue as pool facilities or be developed for housing.  In this scenario, if the City completed the surplus process and was able to enter into a long-term lease with ASPA, there are certain safety protocols that the City would require such as a Red Cross certified lifeguard on deck at all times when the facility is open as well as operating and maintaining the facilities to specified industry standards. 

2)                     The City takes over responsibility for pool operations.  In this scenario, the City would move its aquatics programs to these pool facilities, as feasible, and explore funding options to rebuild the facilities with designs based on community feedback.  This option would retain these pool facilities for community use, however improvement costs and funding sources are unknown.

3)                     The City issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a pool operator.  An operating agreement is not covered by the SLA, because the City retains significant control of the property and thus would not constitute a disposition.  RFP requirements would include operating the facilities as public pools with no membership structure allowed; all lifeguards must be Red Cross certified; and operations and maintenance must comply with industry standards.  In this option, ASPA could submit a proposal to operate the pools if willing to comply with the requirements. 

 

Staff is seeking input from the Recreation and Parks Commission.  City Council will then consider this item to provide final direction.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

There is no financial impact from this recommendation.  Since the City does not receive revenue from this lease agreement, there is no potential for reduced revenue.  However, if the City takes over operations, there are a variety of unknown costs for operations and facility improvements.  These costs will be further evaluated once the City Council provides direction.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Discuss options for the pools at Lincoln Park and Franklin Park and make a recommendation to City Council.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Amy Wooldridge, Recreation and Parks Director

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Pool locations