As I was trying to follow how it was that our City Council went from not overtly considering (Rhino, 3/4 down the article) any kind of Swim Center in June ’08, to copping $10.25M from the P&R Commission’s 2012 bond recommendations (p.3) for a new, indoor, central public pool, which magically transformed to the $12M that was inserted to the P&R bond that was put before the voters and then, finally, arriving at the $19M Coliseum-managed facility that the current Council will vote upon just 1 1/2 hours before the new Council is seated, I found this little item provided to Council in June ’08 from former City Manager Mitch Johnson following a public records request. Some excerpts (emphasis mine) :
“…staff has determined that a competition venue appropriate for hosting regional swim events would be significantly more expensive to build; potentially in the range of $18 to $20 million based on the facility recently completed in Cary, NC. I am concerned that the placing the proposed pool, as listed in the CIP, in the bond package would create expectations which we would fail to meet with that level of funding. As a result I would recommend not considering this option unless Council is very clear that we would not be providing a competitive venue as required to host state or regional level events. I also do not believe that private support could handle the $8,000,000 to $10,000,000 short fall”
“Secondly, the construction of a new facility of this type would carry a significant new operating cost requirement (estimated at $300,000 to $400,000 per year). Over the last few years as we have contemplated a competitive facility I have been in discussions with various parties about options to reduce these on-going costs. However, I want Council to know that at this time there are no firm commitments on how this might occur and we would have to assume that the majority of the costs would fall on the general fund.”
So, not only did the P&R Commission’s recommendations get ignored in the rush, but so did the City Manager’s warnings and urgings.
This I know: The three-pool-design of the Swim Center, and the number of other amenities and specifications that finally went to bid, were driven by the owner (City of Greensboro). The architects (TFF Architects & Planners) were charged with designing what the owner wanted. That’s just the way it works.
Someone, with kahunas made of steel, submitted a ‘want list’ to the designer that was obviously – even to a layman – way out of whack with the available money. Just as obviously, the private sector – aka the competitive swim community – has either failed to pony up as expected, or, was told not to make the effort because of an abiding confidence that funding for the overage would materialize, as is now happening.
I’m guessing all of this happened shortly after the steel-kahuna-laden War Memorial Commission stole the Swim Center from the Parks & Rec Department and was given the go-ahead to “fast-track” the project (read, develop and implement without public scrutiny or input).