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.

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