Thursday, January 28, 2010

More on the swim center

My column last weekend simply wasn't long enough to include all I wanted to, especially a discussion on the need of another competition-sized pool in the city.

Though the 52-meter, year-round, competition pool is at the top of the list for local swim clubs and parents with aquatically minded youngsters, it doesn't necessarily make sense to put in first in the city's eye.

For one, it's hard to justify the cost of a facility that caters to a relatively small portion of Tracy residents as opposed to the cost of a facility that presumably caters to the entire community (the lazy river, activity pool, etc.) Especially when that cost is outsized.

According to sources with the city of Tracy, maintaining a competition-sized pool takes more maintenance than some of the other features planned for the water park. Add to that its year-round nature (as opposed to the warm-weather schedule planned for the rest of the aquatics center) and you've got a facility that could be a financial drag on the entire operation.

Since it's so vital this water park doesn't become a white elephant that drains Tracy's general fund, it's no wonder the competition pool isn't at the top of the list.

Furthermore, there might not be a pressing need for it.

The city already has a contract with Tracy Unified School District to share the Pinkie Phillips Aquatics Center at West High.

And, though parks and rec director Rod Buchanan told me there are no plans in the works to enter a similar agreement regarding the pool at Kimball High, it's a possibility that might be cheaper and make more logistical sense than the city building its own expensive competition pool.

Maybe Tracy needs its very own 52-meter pool. But the city should look at all its other options before the City Council caves to what could be a vocal minority of Tracy citizens.

Of course, this conversation leaves aside other factors surrounding the swim center — its location, its connection to a developer deal with The Surland Cos. that will contribute to the suburban sprawl of Tracy, etc.

But when it strictly comes to the dollars-and-common-sense priority list trotted in front of the City Council, the city looks like it's on the right track.

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