Boards support joint powers authority to build swimming pool
At the Lassen Swimming and Recreation Joint Powers Authority meeting at Jensen Hall on Monday, June 18, the Susanville City Council supported the JPA and appointed Kurt Bonham to serve on the formation committee.
The Lassen Community College Board of Trustees also voted to support the JPA and appointed Sophia Wages to serve on the committee.
Susanville has been without a public pool since Roosevelt Pool, closed in December 2004 due to structural safety issues.
“On behalf of Lassen County Board of Education, I don’t think there’s a board member that isn’t in favor of a pool,” said Board of Education member Pete Jason.
“As a parent and a grandparent, we’re raising children who don’t know how to swim,” said Lassen High School board member Ken Theobald, “and it concerns me greatly and we need to get this done. … It needs to happen.”
Acting city administrator Rob Hill ran the meeting. City Council members Doug Sayers and Vern Templeton asked Hill why the JPA couldn’t retrofit the existing pool on Susanville’s South Street.
“What we learned from the engineers is that whatever is done there would be very, very expensive,” Hill said. “The old pool did not meet any of the current codes for health and safety and so there would be a lot of retrofit.”
Location is a major concern, said Lassen High School Superintendent Dan Lewis, because the school must provide access to students all year round as part of the high school’s instructional mission. Geothermal or solar resources are also important, according to Lewis.
“If fact, the high school district has gone so far as to have a preliminary drawing of a swimming pool by an architect for the possible location on the Credence High School site,” he said.
The bonding capacity each agency may contribute to build the pool, is also important, Lewis said, because public school districts in the state can apply for joint-use-project funding through the Office of Public School Construction. The state will give a school district up to $2 million to build a pool complex, if the school has a joint-use partnership with another public agency.
“Which could be any agency at this table,” Lewis said, adding the JPA “has some real potential to allow a school district to access funding.”
Whoever sits on the JPA board will have to decide the scope of the pool complex and then come back to the respective agencies and give the elected officials an understanding of the authority’s vision as the whether the project will just include a pool, or other sports facilities, child care and other functions.
“We are interested in participating in this,” Lewis said. “In fact, the complex … that we drew up at Credence would be a noratorium. That’s an indoor 25-meter-by-25-meter swim complex that a year ago the estimated construction cost was a little under $9 million.”
Lewis said most of the estimated cost went to constructing the building not putting the pool in the ground. He added the agencies must come up with a way to pay about $380,000 a year to operate a pool, from the latest figures Lewis said he had heard.
“Although we may think, ‘If you build it they will come.’ We can build it and they’ll come,” Lewis said. “But if the prices are too high, we’re going to have to deal with that issue.”
Hill said experts from Aqua Design Group, which designed the $12.5 million pool and recreation facility proposed in Measure K, which city voters turned down in 2004, said pools do not pay for themselves
Lassen Community College, is the only JPA member that will make money by using the pool, according to LCC President Dr. Homer Cissell. LCC gets funding for each full-time equivalent student who takes a swimming class. Cissell said FTAs accounted for 50 percent of the cost of operating Roosevelt Pool. Former pool manager Tony Jonas said it was more like 33 percent.
“But that was directly related to the hourly usage and the number of enrollees that we had in swimming classes,” Cissell said. “From the college’s perspective it would be important that we would have maximum access to schedule the hours, because if we’re left from 7:30 p.m. to midnight the likelihood of us generating the necessary revenue would be minimized.”
The Board of Supervisors already has more recreation obligations than it can fund, said County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen, but the county may contribute revenue from the sale of some surplus property. It also has a lot just east of the Roosevelt Pool site it could contribute if the JPA decides to build a new pool on the old site or try to refurbish the existing pool.
Hill said the city can contribute staffing, experience running a pool, geothermal and natural gas utilities and a 17-acre site on Sierra Street bought with state park grant funds as the location for the pool facility proposed in Measure K.
The board of supervisors passed a resolution at the meeting agreeing to participate in the JPA subject to the following five conditions:
•That any new pool facility project include the removal of the existing pool structure and facilities.
•That any new pool facility be located within a radius no farther from the Lassen Union High School than the existing facility’s location.
•That any new project initially emphasize aquatic facilities.
•That any new facility incorporate geothermal resources into its design and construction
•That any new facility incorporate maximum energy saving features so as to qualify for incentives available from Lassen Municipal Utilities District.
Lisa Liband, of High Sierra Recreation District which spearheaded the pool project, objected to the condition requiring removal of the existing pool. Liband said Susanville School District owns the land on Susanville’s North Street and is not part of the JPA and must come up with the money to demolish the existing building itself.
Jonas objected to preconditioning the project withsout input from all the possible members. LHS Board member Karen Bradbury said use of scarce funding to demolish the old pool should have nothing to do with building a new facility.
“That’s not what we’re here for tonight,” Bradbury said.
District 4 Supervisor and Board Chairman Brian Dahle said the board left the removal of the Roosevelt pool building in the resolution in order to get a unanimous vote in support of the JPA at the July 18 meeting. Dahle said the board can amend the resolution, removing the condition requiring removal of the existing pool on a 3-2 vote at a later date.
In previous discussion of the pool JPA, District 3 Supervisor Lloyd Keefer and District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson have insisted on removal of the Roosevelt Pool building before a new pool is built. District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman invited the other agencies to appeal to the board at a later day to amend the resolution and Chapman said he would vote to remove the condition.
“You guys are so confusing,” said City Councilmember Kurt Bonham, drawing laughter from the members of the five boards and the six people in the audience.
Bonham said the supervisors were saddling the JPA with preconditions and shutting out the members of the other boards. He said the members appointed to serve on the JPA board will need the freedom to hash out a document and bring it back to the various boards for approval.
Members of the board of supervisors unanimously passed the resolution supporting formation of the JPA.
At the board’s Tuesday, June 19 meeting, supervisors agreed to appoint a member to the JPA formation committee at the board’s meeting this morning, Tuesday, June 26. The board meets at 9:30 a.m. at 707 Nevada St.
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