Elk Grove Inching Ever Closer on Proposed Olympic Pool, Commercial Waterpark

September 6, 2013 | As part of its ambitious civic center project, the Elk Grove City Council is progressing on one of the facility...

September 6, 2013 |

As part of its ambitious civic center project, the Elk Grove City Council is progressing on one of the facility's key components - a proposed Olympic-caliber competitive swimming center and a commercial waterpark.

On Thursday, the city announced that a scoping meeting for the proposed project's environmental impact report (EIR) will be held later this month. A scoping meeting is typically held to gather public input on items of interest for an ensuing EIR.

According to the documents released by the city, the proposed facility located near Bruceville Road and Civic Center Drive would include a 50-meter by 25-yard Olympic competition swimming pool, a 10-meter diving platform, hot tub seating for up to 12 people, seating for 1,000 and administrative facilities for the entire operation.

The proposed commercial waterpark could include a lazy/adventure river, wave pool, slide attractions, children’s aquatic play system, family activity pool and various water feature elements such as spray grounds, geysers and water play features. The city estimates the commercial operation will attract up to 250,000 guests annually.

To operate the facility, the city has twice issued request for qualifications for the project. The first request generated three qualified respondents who would be invited to participate in the request for proposal process. Subsequent to that, one party withdrew and another did not want to respond to the request as it was presented.

At the last council meeting City Manager Laura Gill said that in the second round McCarthy Hawaiian Falls Public Private Partnership’s proposal has been determined to be responsive. Gill added that city staff is working with McCarthy Hawaiian to develop a contract and that it would be brought to the council at an undetermined date.

Mayor Gary Davis and Council Member Jim Cooper have strongly supported the facility for its economic development potential while Vice Mayor Steve Detrick and Council Member Pat Hume have given the project qualified support. Both Detrick and Hume have both said that the operation needs to be run a net-zero cost to taxpayers to earn their full support. Council member Bob Trigg has not indicated his position on the proposed facility.

Elk Grove News has submitted a public information request with the city to review the proposal submitted by McCarthy Hawaiian Falls and is awaiting release of the document.

The pre-EIR scoping meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 26, from 11 am to 12 p.m. at the city council chamber at City Hall.


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Mark Spitz said...

A Net-zero cost to taxpayers? Unlikely that will happen. If the free-market supported such a facility without taxpayer subsidies, you can bet it would have been built and turning a profit by now! Just like the ice rink, some things will only work if "free" money is added to the equation. Economic benefits they say? Yeah, some part-time minimum-wage, seasonal jobs. Oh yeah, with a little luck the visitors will also do a little shopping after they dry off--at stores with more part-time minimum wage jobs. I can hardly wait for this! My wallet is getting antsy!

Anonymous said...

In doing some research I see that the facilities in Texas are open Memorial Day through Labor Day and the hours are 10:30 - 6 P.M. except on Fridays...until 8 P.M. They are now closed until next year. Seems they have contracts with some Pizza places, etc. for food and for $10.00 you can take in your own ice chest with food items. Now that's the Waterpark...how does the Olympic Pool tie into this scenario? Little confused so hopefully the proposal with help clarify some of this. Also wonder what is their expertise in building and running such a complex.

Jill said...

It will be noteworthy to see how the numbers on this project flesh out. Given Mayor Davis and Council Member Cooper haven't met a sport facility proposal they haven't liked, we can only hope that Vice Mayor Detrick and Council Member Hume take a more jaundiced view of this proposal. Of course the wild card is Council Member Trigg. As he has said repeatedly, he has spent time with staff when going over agenda items. We can only imagine what he will be fed by staff when going over this proposal.

Anonymous said...

Why is this meeting, which supposedly is held to accept public input, being held at a time when most Elk Grovians are at work? This meeting needs to be held at time when it is feasible for working residents to attend. This really lacks transparency. Seems the city is hoping that no one shows up scheduling the meeting at 11am. Smells fishy? Mr. Hume...can you change this time to 6pm?? Either you want feedback from the citizens who will ultimately have to pay for this project via taxes or you're just going to shove it down our throats? Which is it???

Connie said...

We need to go into this with our eyes wide open. Every staff report and paid for feasibility study will make assumptions that this aquatics center will make money. We taxpayers are the equity investors, and as such, it is critical we know up front our warranted investment on this project will be financially feasible or not.

The bottom line is that aquatics centers do not make money for cities. Many have closed down or the city has raised taxes to subsidize it. The council needs to take this head on and realize that money needs to be set aside every year for operating costs.
One city took that to heart and didn’t get a feel good feasibility study saying, “Own financial feasibility study concluded “virtually all indoor/outdoor aquatic centers that have been built in the last fifteen years are not covering their operating expenses with revenues.” So city leaders planned from the beginning and increased local sales taxes by 0.1%.

Our city council needs to look at other cities who are underwater with their aquatics centers and who have either had to raise a lot of money or shut down. We must remember with a public project fails, taxpayers are on the hook.

And then what? So do we take the plunge wisely or dive into shallow end with our eyes shut and hope we don’t hit bottom?

Bob L said...

Some very good comments here. Feasability studies aren't reality. Staff will need to survey other communities with these amenities and get their input on whether these amenities can be run at net-zero costs to taxpayers.

My guess is, you'll be hard pressed to find a community where there is a net-zero cost.

Secondarily, the morning scoping meeting is ridiculous. The hard working people of Elk Grove will be in downtown Sac earning a living while this meeting is being held. - Change it to after 6pm. Otherwise, the city is just checking off that they gave the community an opportunity for input, when, in reality, staff simply wants to build what they want. - Not a new concept here in EG.

Lastly, we need more than one contractor to submit a bit. Expand the notice for the RFP. Otherwise we are hostage to the single contractor's wants and needs. This also has become commonplace (not opening jobs up for bid or accepting bids without honestly seeking legitimate RFPs)here in EG and it needs to stop.

-I'm afraid the city will accept the single bid, ignore the concerns or ideas made by citizens at a poorly attended scoping meeting with the result being a tax burden being forced upon the local taxpayers.

Is anyone listening?......

Anonymous said...

Yes, I hear you! Been to those scoping sessions before and the end result was they were all for show....transparency is not in their vocabulary.

One RFP is never acceptable and makes one wonder exactly why there was only one...maybe a clue there! I find a playground water park and an Aquatics Center two totally different items and that this entity has no record of building an Aquatics Center let alone managing one. Of course that is based on my doing some internet research and not on any personal expertise. I just think we could be making a hugh and costly mistake in accepting only one RFP...or do we have someone working within the city with the major knowledge in building an Aquatics Center and how to overcome all the risks associated with such a complex? I do not mean financially totally, but other risks related to swimmers health(RWI), ventilation, etc, etc. Our city council needs to back up, take a deep breath and insist on more than what I have been reading and hearing from them so far. We're not building a swimming pool or basing it on attending some event at a complex...it's BIG and expensive and if not done right will be an anchor pulling us down for years and a place no swimmer will touch. Do your homework council...don't get caught up in all the hype.

Anonymous said...

EXTRA, EXTRA, read all about it...Elk Grove lands Olympic swim trials; Major League Soccer team locates near the award-winning overpass; the connector "bypass" becomes the next Howe Avenue and contrary to public sound-bites, is not about moving traffic efficiently--it's about strip commercial and profiting through rezones on the taxpayers dime.

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