PIEDMONT — Plans are on track for Piedmont’s long-awaited new community pool, city officials say.
A firm has been chosen to do the design, planning and engineering for the swim complex. Former City Administrator Paul Benoit, who is consulting for the pool project, said the name of the firm will be released after the City Council has reviewed their proposal at the council’s Oct. 18 meeting.
“Things are proceeding better than expected,” Benoit said. “We put an aggressive schedule together. All the proposals were top-notch proposals from very talented firms. We are very blessed and lucky. Things are right on schedule, and I’m thrilled with that. “Our focus is to keep things moving, open summer of 2024.”
And moving they are. City Administrator Sara Lillevand said this week that “We are targeting mid- to late November for bond issuance. The $19.5 million is the principal or face value of the bonds. The actual amount of proceeds from the bonds will depend on the market conditions at the time of issuance.”
Piedmont voters approved Measure UU on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot to construct a new facility to replace an aging one, which has been closed since the pandemic. The measure needed a two-thirds (66.667%) vote, which it received, passing with 68.8% approval. The ad valorem tax for Piedmonters will be $26.20 per $100,000 of assessed value, for an annual tax of $262 on a house valued at $1 million, for example. The tax would be imposed on properties for 30 years. Work has been and is being done to prepare the site, Benoit said.
“All the technical surveys, geotechnical, hazmat was completed in advance. Now the big pool has been drained. There are no hiccups in the process,” Benoit said. “It’s exciting, such a beautiful site and city. (The facility) needs to serve the entire community. When the bond issue passed, it broke the logjam.”
The project calls for two pools — a warmer, shallower recreation pool with areas for safe water play, swim lessons, therapeutic swim and physical rehab; and a wider and deeper pool for recreation, physical education, water aerobics, water polo, swim teams and lap swimming. There also will be a building to house pool equipment, restrooms, offices and community space. Piedmonters have wanted a new aquatic facility for many years. Master plans, surveys and numerous discussions have been held since 2016 and earlier, but there was no money in the budget.
The old pool complex provided recreation, swim lessons, swim meets, lap swim and more. Dozens of supporters spoke at public meetings saying the community pool was a valued resource in town. The now-defunct facility opened in 1964, paid for by private funds on city-owned land. It operated as the private, nonprofit Piedmont Swim Club until 2011, when the city assumed responsibility for the facility’s operation. Its pools were leaking, its equipment outdated, and the pool was draining city coffers with repairs.
Talks soon began in earnest to put a measure on the ballot to fund a new aquatic facility. The project is proceeding in four phases: Phase 1, predesign, started in July and will run into November; Phase 2, design and permitting, will run from this December through February 2023; Phase 3, construction, will run from March 2023 through May 2024; and Phase 4, closeout, will run from June through August 2024.
“The need for a replacement aquatic facility has been evident for decades, so I’m delighted that Piedmont voters approved Measure UU,” said City Councilmember Tim Rood, a former president of the city’s swim club. “After a thorough and inclusive master planning process, Piedmont is now ready to take the plunge into actually designing our new aquatic facility. It is the city’s stated goal and my own to build as ‘green’ a pool as possible. I intend to advocate for an all-electric facility that can be zero-carbon in its operation if powered by renewable energy.”
Linda Davis is a longtime Piedmont correspondent. Contact her with news tips or comments at [email protected].