Danville Express

Newsfront - March 2, 2007

Alamo OKs aquatic funds

Steering committee had hoped for more than $200,000

by Natalie O'Neill

The Alamo R-7A Parks and Recreation Committee agreed last week to contribute $200,000 to an aquatic center at San Ramon Valley High School over the next five years.

The Danville Aquatic Center Steering Committee proposed $300,000 over five years, but some R-7A members found that figure too high, considering the recreation center will be built outside the Alamo area.

"It's a balancing act - in the end we need to have enough to represent all groups. Giving any more than that wouldn't have been responsible," said R-7A member Marianne Sasso.

Members from the aquatic steering committee had mixed feelings about the decision.

"We came away feeling pretty good, but we strongly disagree with their logic," said Tom Dewar, of the steering committee.

The pool will be immensely beneficial to all Alamo residents, Dewar said, whether it is located near Alamo or within Alamo boundaries.

The pool will be used for Alamo high school students who attend SRVHS, along with members of club aquatic sports teams. Any resident who wants to participate in open swim time, water aerobics and other water recreation will have access to the aquatic center as well - before and after school hours and during the summer.

"It may not be in our area, but our kids go to that school," said R-7A Chairman Steve Mick, who supported contributing $300,000 to the pool.

About 50 people crowded into the Swain House at Hap Magee Ranch at the past two committee meetings to show support for the contribution. Alamo residents stated their personal needs for the pool and some came to silently show their support.

The first motion, to put forward $300,000, was voted down 3 to 2, which prompted the crowd to respond with sounds of disappointment and aggravation.

"One contingent left slamming the door. You could hear it and feel it," said R-7A member Nancy Dommes, who wholeheartedly supported the full contribution.

Other R-7A members, however, felt funding the aquatic center didn't line up with the committee's major priority: to focus on parks and recreational programs for a specific group of Alamo taxpayers.

"A question that was never answered was what percentage of people from the R-7A area are on those swim teams," said committee member Marie-Jeanne Parsons.

The committee also has to take into account that there are still costs pending and projects they have obligations to fulfill, Parsons said.

The committee's projected annual income is about $700,000.

Members were split, however, on what they felt they could comfortably contribute.

"I wished it had been $400,000," Dommes said, adding there are items on the budget that have not been motioned for.

Dommes was disappointed with the decision, considering the overwhelming support and feedback the community generated in support of the pool. She voted not to contribute $200,000 as a form of protesting that it was an insufficient amount.

"The e-mails have been voluminous," she said. "We should be listening to the community and acting for the will of the community ... it's no skin off of the R-7A budget."

Other committee members suggested alternative ways of calculating what they should contribute.

The steering committee, however, pointed to a large chunk of money in the budget, $2.7 million that carried over from last year.

"If you had $2.7 million in the bank, it would be a no-brainer," Dewar said.

Parsons, who is the vice chairman of R-7A and in charge of budget issues, said most of the $2.7 million was carried over from last year and the bulk of it is not available for spending. She said an approximate figure for what is available couldn't yet be calculated.

"It seems like there's a lot of money there but really there's not," Mick said.

One member suggested that since 17 percent of SRVHS are Alamo students, the committee should give 17 percent of what the town of Danville contributes. Other members said their priorities were toward building another park in Alamo.

The total cost of building the aquatic center is estimated to be $2.4 million. So far about $1.4 million has been raised, with Danville contributing $750,000.

Since the Parks and Recreation Committee acts as an advisory board for county supervisors, the decision is not set in stone. The supervisors usually make decisions based on the committee's recommendation, but Alamo residents can contact their supervisor directly to give input.

Dewar, who plans to pursue more sources for contributions, said the committee will work with the Town of Danville and the county on the project.

"I think there is still a lot of discussion that will go on," he said.

Contact Natalie O'Neill at noneill@danvilleweekly.com


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