RP council to consider reopening Magnolia pool for summer
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By Jud Snyder  March 1, 2013 12:00 am


The thermometer last week may have dipped down to the 30s at night and 40s daytime, but Rohnert Park’s City Council cheerfully swam (or dog-paddled) in a discussion of city-owned swimming pools Tuesday night in city hall. The team of John McArthur, public works director, and Guy Miller, Callinan Sports Center manager, provided the figures starting the conversation. Four council members were present, and Gina Belforte was absent.

Most swimmers know municipal pools are money-losers; they’re a service provided to the community with council approval. But the city’s finances are still in a perilous state, and deficit ventures always get a critical eye these days.

For example: Honeybee Pool, open year round, earns $124,768 each year but it costs the city $216,800 to operate; Benicia Pool, open during summer months only, earns $32,287 but costs $89,004 each season to operate. Currently, they’re the only swimming pools in the city. Magnolia pool has water in it, but it’s closed because of budget restraints. La Fiesta pool is long gone, and the city’s original swimming pool in Alicia Park is now only a distant memory.

For a city who once boasted of having five swimming pools (compared to Santa Rosa’s one or two and Petaluma’s only one), this fact has apparently rankled the council.

McArthur had an estimate saying Magnolia pool could be opened, just for the summer, at a cost of about $22,000.

Councilman Amy Ahanotu wondered if the city could open the pool “with a little help from the YMCA or Boys & Girls Club.”
Councilman Joe Callinan indicated $22,000 isn’t all that much, noting RP’s General Fund is $22 million. “I would vote right now we open Magnolia,” he said.

Mayor Pam Stafford said, “I think spending $22,000 is too much, and that figure’s just an estimate.”

Councilman Jake Mackenzie said, “I think the history of attendance at Magnolia pool does not inspire confidence. I suggest we keep it closed this year.”

McArthur agreed. “It’s been our least-used pool. It wasn’t designed to have a diving board and needs some rehabilitation to bring it up to requirements,” he said.

Nevertheless, a vote was held with Mackenzie making the motion to open it. The outcome was a 2-2 split with Callinan and Ahanotu voting yes, Stafford and Mackenzie voting no. The motion died.

However, the council decided (by consensus) to bring the issue back for another vote when Belforte returns.

McArthur also reminded the council both Honeybee and Benicia swimming pools need work done on filters, decking relining of wading pools and other upgrades. His estimate was $300,000 total for both pools plus more if Magnolia ever does get approved for re-opening.

Post Your Comments:
Jon Lewis
March 25, 2013
I have been a Rohnert Park resident for most of my 34 years. I remember the best summers ever as a kid being able to meet w all my friends and go swimming at B pool. Now it seems the kids around here dont have that option anymore. Im a painting contractor and I also own a graphics business(vinyl graphics, signs, banners, etc) and would like to donate my services if that helps in the opening process.
Gail
March 6, 2013
When I attended a water aerobics class at the M pool a number of years ago it was full each class. I'm not referring to honey bee pool. We started there and had to move because it was so well attended.
If we in Cotati or Rohnert Park want to go to a water aerobics class we have to drive to Santa Rosa or Sebastopol.
The class I'm talking about was filled that summer from word of mouth.
If a class like this were to be advertised one can only guess at how many would attend.
There are some really great teachers in the area, and many people that like this form of exercise.
Please open the pool and add aerobics to help pay to have it open.
Jane
March 3, 2013
I live in the M section and am at the park almost every day with my son and his friends. I am tired of trying to explain why they can?t use it when I don?t understand it myself. I was also at the meeting on Tuesday and both Pam and Jake agreed that they never wanted that pool to be built in the first place. I want to tell them the same thing I tell the kids when they pout about not getting what they want, ?let it go and move on.? The M pool is there now, it?s not going away and it is what we have. So let?s make the best use of it.
We do not need to have another pool across the street just on the other side of Bodway. We have a pool that we have been maintaining in a ready to open status at a cost of about $15,000 a year. Last year it would have cost only $8,000 to reopen the pool, now that cost is up to $22,000. The M pool is only 12 years old.

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