Recreation and Park Commission Meet for Community Pool

By Nicole Calbreath

DAVIS, CA – The Recreation and Park Commission met virtually on Feb. 15 to discuss the Community Pool RFP (Request For Proposal) Award. This was an informational item on the agenda, meaning no action was taken but clarifications were provided to the commissioners and members of the public in attendance. 


The RFP Award was presented by Parks and Community Services Director Deanne Machado. She emphasized the significant costs of the Community Pool, blatantly stating that “the pools are not creating strong revenue streams for the city.” Machado’s contextualization of the Community Pool’s history stressed the debatable viability of the pool. She explained that as costs increased, the pool was leased to DART, a competitive year-round program focused on empowering young people through swimming. 


During the closure of the pool in 2011 due to infrastructure issues, possible solutions were discussed, but Machado emphasized the possibility of “even a permanent closure” that was at the time on the table to show how far the process progressed.


The process was completely public and anyone could have submitted a proposal, but the only responsive proposal submitted came from DART. The choice to pick this private entity was decided through an analysis of programming, staffing, financials, and quality essentials, but the proposal is not in place yet. The term negotiated lasts three years with three one-year potential extensions; a maximum six-year term.


Director Machado explained that “in the previous lease arrangement, the location was still heavily subsidized by the city. And the city was actually still in the negative about 148,000 dollars per year…and now in this new contract which we negotiated, DART will assume full financial responsibility for the location.” 


Commissioner Mieko Chambers sought out clarification, asking, “[S]o at the end of the year, the city will be paying zero dollars to run the Community Pool?” Machado confirmed she was correct, but also mentioned that there are specific costs covered by the city, such as capital repairs in excess of 10,000 dollars. Regular operating expenses are now the responsibility of DART, but the downside to this is that DART assumes the full revenue earned.


The programming of the location will look very similar to its current state, with community events such as the Fourth of July and Celebrate Davis to be included. Machado teased the potential for more events such as Parents’ Night Out or Movies for Teens. 


DART’s progress is monitored and will be available to the commission in annual reports.  


Commissioner Timm Herdt expressed his satisfaction with the choice to move forward with the RFP. Certain opportunities have been unavailable for quite some time, and access is not becoming more restrictive. Herdt recognized “although we had a wishlist of more pubic swimming opportunities, it was that…[the RFP] should add some certainty and long-range planning potential.” 


The freedom created from this financial relief will allow for increases to max occupancy and enhanced programming at the remaining rec sites, but Commissioner Chambers mentioned dissatisfaction with the negotiation process and changes to pool allocation policy. 


Vice Chair Erik Vink came to the proposal’s defense, reminding the commission that “it’s very costly to the city to provide these types of opportunities for community lap swimming…unfortunately we don’t live in a world where we have unlimited resources.” He suggested that people do not expect a private entity to provide opportunities that the city was unable to offer on its own because it is not economically feasible.” 


Vice Chair Vink concluded, saying “it’s great that we have the opportunity, whether it’s through lease of existing facilities or through this RFP, for these community members to get as much use out of these facilities as possible.” 


There is still time to analyze transparency and equity within the proposal at hand before action is taken.

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