DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - August 24, 2007

Cost of new aquatic center takes huge jump

Supporters say fundraising won't be a problem

by Natalie O'Neill

The steering committee for a new pool at San Ramon Valley High School says it has good news and bad news.

The school district just declared it will pledge $750,000 to help pay for a new aquatic center at the high school - a positive step for advocates of a community water recreation facility. That's the "good news."

The "bad news," however, is that the project estimate - formerly anticipated at $2.4 million - has been bumped up to $3.8 million, due to construction inflation costs.

"It's a dramatic jump," said Tom Dewar, spokesman for the Danville Aquatic Center Steering Committee.

Now, under existing conditions with both the town of Danville and the Alamo Parks and Recreation Committee, the aquatics committee must secure an additional $1.4 million by Dec. 31.

The committee has already raised $2.4 million, pulling $750,000 from Danville and $200,000 from Alamo to refurbish the existing pool and add a new one.

"As of Dec. 31, the offer's off the table - beyond that, it's up," said Nancy Dommes, secretary for the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Dewar is welcome to propose the date be pushed back, she added.

Committee member Marianne Sasso said the committee has "already earmarked" its part of the contribution and noted adjusting the date was an option. Chairman Steve Mick, on the other hand, added it's "too early to tell" if the committee has that authority.

At a February meeting, where the Alamo funds were approved, Dommes said she asked Dewar if the date should be extended to December 2008. At that meeting, his response was that it wouldn't be necessary.

"It shocked the heck out of me. Why wouldn't you want to extend it?" she recalled thinking.

But despite what appears to be a time crunch, steering committee members say they're confident they will pull in the money by the cutoff date. The $1.4 million will come from individual contributors as a backup, members said.

"I feel fairly optimistic on the fundraising side," Dewar said.

In the winter, a standing-room-only crowd piled into the Hap Magee Ranch Park's Swain house to give individual reasons for wanting a community pool.

A student swimmer detailed that he and his teammates sometimes had to practice until 11 p.m. on school days in shallow water because the facility couldn't accommodate the team. Some senior citizens detailed they would love to use a pool for aquatic aerobics, but there's nearly no time for the community to use it.

Team sports, a "free swim" time and lap swimming would be possibilities for all Danville and Alamo residents, advocates said.

Danville Town Council members and Alamo committee members noted an aquatic center would be an important recreational asset to the entire area, not just the high school.

In addition to the money put forward by Alamo, Danville and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, $100,000 has come from the San Ramon Valley Athletic Boosters and $600,000 has already come from individual pledges.

Right now, the school district is reviewing a master plan for how the high school will be remodeled. It is examining how the aquatic center will fit into that.

"The district is looking at what remains to be done at the high school as a whole. The pool is part of that process," said Terry Koehne, spokesman for the school district.

Their part of the contribution will most likely come from state funding, developers fees and construction bonds, Koehne said.

Construction of the pool could begin as early as next summer and as late as 2014, depending on what's decided at the district's master plan review meetings. At this point, plans are at a very early stage, Koehne said.

"It's definitely a process in it's own," Dewar said.

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