Sink or Swim - Elk Grove Mayor, Councilmen to Contemplate Downsized Aquatic Center

January 12, 2016 |

At their first meeting of the year tomorrow night, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis and his fellow city councilmen may have a bitter pill to swallow as they contemplate a vastly scaled-down version of their proposed world-class aquatics center.

The proposed aquatics center, which has been a cornerstone of Davis' and the city council's vision of transforming Elk Grove into a major tourist destination, will be included in an extensive discussion regarding various projects the city is seeking to finance. 

Since its inception, Davis, and the city council have sought to include an Olympic-sized competitive pool and a 10-meter dive platform at the proposed civic center facility in hopes of attracting swim meets, including Olympic qualifying events. A report prepared by an outside consultant noted Elk Grove's facility would be at a severe competitive disadvantage compared to similar facilities in Northern California, and as a result, the city could have to provide substantial annual financial subsidies to keep it afloat.

That same report suggested a smaller facility could stay within its $17 million construction budget and be operated with a lower annual subsidies. Complicating matters for Davis, who has staked much of his reputation with voters on the project, is that Councilmen Steve Detrick and Pat Hume have repeatedly stated they would support the facility only if it can be operated without annual subsidies.        

While the city council will contemplate a scaled-down version, the facility has been plagued by several controversies and setbacks. In its original incarnation, the facility included a large water amusement park that was proposed to help defray the anticipated subsidies the city would have to float. 

The amusement park proposal was sunk after the city and its then consultant on the project, P3 International, were unable to arrange financing or secure an operator. Additionally, nearby residents objected to having an amusement park located in their neighborhood.

As if to complicate matters, last summer the city filed a civil suit against P3 International and its principal Jeroen Gerrese for negligence and breach of contract over its handling of the city's troubled proposed aquatics center. The City Council unanimously awarded Gerrese a $695,000 contract in  September 2013 and had paid him $525,000 as of the time the lawsuit was filed. 

Gerrese told the City Council in September 2014 that the only financing he could secure was at 12-percent, Gerrese filed a counter-suit, and the litigation is currently pending.

Tomorrow's meeting starts at 6 p.m. 


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Anonymous said...

The revenue projections are too rosy and there is still a $500K to $750K annual operating deficit. In all likelihood, Suen and Ly will fold and it will pass. Detrick will probably fold too but I'm hoping Hume sticks to his guns. Get ready to pay, Elk Grove!

The swim teams asked for water but Davis pushed for Slip and Slides and high dives. What a shame - coulda had water long ago. (Coulda had grass for the soccer kids long ago, too, but that's a different post for a different day).

Wasted time, wasted money

Anonymous said...

turn "Elk Grove into a major tourist destination"

Are you kidding me?

Come to the city of strip centers, boring suburban subdivisions, soccer moms, big box retailers and fast food joints.

Mark Doty said...

I've posted here as well as made public comment at various council meetings about the need to remove the 10m platform. There's no need for such an expensive luxury when it's not part of a collegic swim complex at a major university such as Stanford or Cal.

Ice rink said...

Wondering who gave them the mandate to get into the parks and recreation business anyway?

Anonymous said...

Interesting point, Ice Rink.

If it is an attraction for visitors, then it doesn't fall within the purview of CSD. So, you've got to make it something that would have a regional draw. For the aquatic, that would be the high dive or the olympic-size pool. Likewise for the competition soccer fields and stadium - if it is "just grass" then that would be CSD.

However, Davis' singular focus of "getting on the map" involves these grandiose dreams - that are beyond scope and budget of the CSD.

The kids want "water" and "grass." If Davis hadn't been so myopic we could have had more pools and fields years ago by cooperating with CSD. Cooperation would be great but that's not Davis' strong point.

Of course, Connie Conley has been saying that for years.

Anonymous said...

Seems every project that runs into the millions is on the agenda Wednesday night. Veterans Hall redesign - Aquatics Center - Senior Center/Community Center - plus the Animal Shelter project seeking input on staff's next steps to that project. Just be interesting to see what spin they put on each one and even more interesting to see how they vote. We'll be watching you Davis, Detrick & Suen...expect a full house. Might want to take a quick refresher course in finances.

Someone Who Used to Care said...

This is both pathetic and cathartic. For as long as each of these issues have been before this city council the citizens have repeatedly and repeatedly pointed out that that the plans have been too grandiose and over-the-top expensive for our community. That is cathartic for those of us who saw the obvious and pointed it out to the deaf council over the past years.

Our mayor and his minions have demanded that we strive to become a "destination city" come hell or high water. They have constantly ignored the citizens views and wishes on these amenities and spent so much wasted time and money on useless feasibility studies that eventually informed the council what the citizens already knew by simply applying common sense; these expanded projects are just too expensive for our city budget.

As above posters have pointed out, our kids could already be swimming and playing field sports had the mayor and council been realistic. Instead we have nothing to show for all the time and money spent.

Time for new blood at city hall. The mayor and his minions have had ample time to produce something....anything. We have nothing to show over their entire tenure. That is pathetic.

- Told ya so!!!!

Anonymous said...

open a few casino and strip clubs in elk grove. tourist will come flocking.

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