City to Replace Smith Pool

City Council approved a plan to replace Smith Pool last night, Seth Rosen writes in the Progress. They’ll shut down Crow Pool and rebuild an expanded Smith, in hopes of compensation for the loss of Crow. The renovation will cost $10M.

28 Responses to “City to Replace Smith Pool”

  • I hope they will rebuild Smith BEFORE closing Crow so we aren’t left with zero indoor pools while Smith’s being rebuilt.


  • I agree Jeff. I also hope they eventually vote to renovate Crow so we aren’t left without a city, public pool on this side of town.

  • The whole plan is still confusing to me. I think they’re planning to have two pools at Buford, one cool water for laps and one warm water for no laps. Thte Walker pool will be permanently closed. A non-swimming recreation center may be built on its current site. These plans are supposed to be integrated into a Boys and Girls Club at Buford and a YMCA recreational facility including some kind of pool built with YMCA, City and County money to be used by those with membership in the YMCA. Plans change so frequently here that I’m not sure of what I’m talking about but I thought I’d contribute a possible launching point for citizens to ask. I have not seen any cost estimates for any of this, but, going by recent projects, we will find out the cost when the projects’s finished. Then, again, we’re still debating the final cost of the east end of the downtown Mall renovations and the cost of the new computerization of City Hall, so I’m actually more ignorant than I thought.

    Cville Shut Eye

  • Why is the city still dickering with the idea of funding support for the YMCA aquatic/recreation center and giving away our park land for the project? It is beyond me. Give park land away for a building and not build the meadowcreek parkway.
    As I understand it a petition was presented to council signed by several hundred people opposing the YMCA project. Does council ever listen to the citizens of Charlottesville? It appears as if they don’t.

  • I think they are still discussing it because Dave Norris and the mayor are FOR privatizing the city aquatic program (giving land to the YMCA)despite the fact that the majority of the citizens are opposed to it. So, it does appear that they are not listening.

  • Both Brown and Norris have said in Council meetings that they think it is important that the CHS students will be able to walk there to PLAY after school instead of engaging in an academic after school activity or working a part-time job. The site at PVCC is supposed to be too far away for them to get to right after school. How the students are supposed to get home after the YMCA closes, they haven’t said. If they can ride the CTS bus home for free, then why can’t they ride out to PVCC and back for free? This reasoning makes no sense to anybod but them.

  • I have as yet not seen any concrete plans, cost estimates or timetables for the renovation of any of the aquatic centers in the city…Smith or Crow….All I see are a lot of guest-estimates…..nothing firm and in writing.
    The original estimate for the renovation of both Crow and Smith recreation centers was around 2.5M per facility or about $5m total to bring both facilities up to “standard.” Now they are talking about a $10M renovation of just Smith pool. This is rediculous.
    Norris and Brown are finding it awfully easy to spend the taxpayers money. By the way has Brown itemized his (city paid) expenses for his recent vacation in Italy?

  • And, jogger, you’re not going to see any details, except design details. It’s never a question of cost, but design. At least in Charlottesville. Unlike our surrounding counties that set a price tag then discuss features and design and announce the project has come “under budget” upon completion, our “fiscally responsible” Council has a history of open-ended project costing. That is, you have citizen brainstorming sessions to form an all-inclusive wish list to get “concensus” and “community buy-in.” Then, Council continues to appropriate money until the project is finished, often including multiple design changes adding to “change order fees” and “cost overruns.” You never hear of a projected price tag. Good example: the east end downtown Mall project. Since money is no object, you will never hear how much a project eventually costs. If some one individual complains, he is countered with “it’s what the community said it wanted.” And that’s community accountability. Have you noticed that during the current discussion, the City has price tags for the supposed repair of current recreational facilities but none for the proposed facilities? Yet, they constantly talk about “savings” according to the various options. What numbers are they subtracting from? This rhetoric allows them to claim that they are being “fiscally responsible” with tax payers money, knowing that no one is really watching. Great scam.

  • Cville Eye, I agree a GREAT SCAM!! at taxpayers expense. I guess this is what you get when you have one party rule…God help the taxpayer if the council approves this foolish YMCA/Boys & Girls club aquatic/recreation center project proposed for McIntire Park. That will be just like our public education system a bottomless money pit. With no accountability.

  • Obviously, the majority of taxpayers in Charlottesville approve of it or they would change it. The Boys and Girls Club will be located at Buford School on land that has been leashed to them by the School Board. These recreational transitions are what the City calls “public/private partnerships.” What will be interesting to see is how the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA will be able to run these centers with no on-going significant stream of money except from the local governments. Council, being “fiscally responsible” has not answered this question and probably has not thought to ask it.
    Face it, jogger, we now live in a charge card society. Most people going on vaction have no idea how much they will spend on their trip. They use their charge card and find out how much the vaction cost after they get the bill. Hopefully, they have some kind of disability insurance to pay on these cards if they hit hard times. The City’s disability insurance is its ability to adjust tax rates when it wants additional income. How else are we going to pay for the “class” in a “World Class City?”

  • I see a big difference between the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA “partnerships.” As you say, the Boys and Girls Club is leasing land from the city. There’s a huge step from there to giving city land to the YMCA (a private enterprise) and giving up control of the city aquatics program. I can’t see a single advantage to outsourcing or privatizing a city run program.

  • It is my understanding that the YMCA will also have a long-term lease on the land. Of course, as landlords, the School Board and City will be responsible for the water and sewer connections and maintenance. Very expensive. They’ll probably be responsible for the parking lots, too.

  • I guess one advantage is the employees will not be government employees in both cases, so the City and School Board will not be responsible for their benefits and retirement. It cuts back on long-term costs.

  • I wasn’t aware that the lifeguards and pool managers get retirement or benefits. So, how is that a savings?

  • Parent you demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the YMCA/Boys & Girls Club partnerships.
    YMCA will be paying for everything in the four walls of the Y and the land will be leased- the savings obviously comes from not having to pay the enormous energy, employment and programming bills with City money and the irrational policy of having six pools in one small city. We really are already subsidizing this land in the Park to the county for their softball program. The building would be built in the active part of the park.
    Moreover, the Y project is by no means finalized. Sure a broad section of the community represented by the Parks and Rec Advisory Board unanimously passed it, but niches of special interests may have their day and get this project rejected. Certainly this is not in the best interests of the City taxpayer who subsidizes county residents for the Park and Rec and pays way too much for these antiquated facilities.

  • Jennifer, no, jogger doesn’t know much about the “deals” with the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA. Nobody but that committee you spoke of apparently does. And, apparently it doesn’t know much. This is supposed to be a “state of the art” and “superior” facility. The YMCA is only bringing $5M to the table for its construction. That’s not “superior” money. Can anyone on that committee tell the public where the yearly operational funds will be coming from? Don’t say market-rate memberships, please. Nobody who can afford membership will give up ACAC or other for-profit gyms with homogeneous clietns to become a member of this subsidized facility. Nowhere has anybody said what will make this project or its operation financially viable. This project is clearly another project that will depend up the City’s having an open wallet, while giving up control. This committee drew up its conclusions without hard financial data, going through another Christmas Wish List proces. I know, because I attended one of the focus groups where cost was never discussed. I also noticed that there “plants” in my focus group (I did not say who planted them) that quickly jumped to the ACAC-clone model, falling all over themselves with well-rehearsed suggestions. I knew what was the “done deal” when I left the room. I didn’t go to the Prom last year. The YMCA wouldn’t be in the running at all if it was not for political payback, if the truth be told. Keep asking questions, jogger, you have a right to know. To answer your question to me, jogger, the full-time recreational staff are vested. And, Jennifer, we wouldn’t have the problem of six pools in the City if the Y would take its “state of the art” “superior” project to the County. They will still need City and County money for “the enormous energy, employment and programming bills,” because THEY HAVE NO ON-GOING MONEY SOURCE (and neither does B and G Club), but they wouldn’t be getting central park land in order to make the argument in the future that most of their clients reside in the City and Council owes the youth to fund their budget.

  • No doubt the County should contribute- no one would argue that point. The Y will only commit to raising $5 mil at this point because shockingly they cannot predict the future, they certainly expect to raise more.
    Moreover, of course there are MANY, MANY people who will be able to afford the Y who are unable to afford ACAC or the other luxury clubs in this area. Why would the Y put up a building at PVCC or the PARK if they couldnt afford to operate it? That is not a business model that is feasible, look at the Ys history of success in other communities, it works and it helps communities, it doesnt hurt them.
    To debate the merits of the proposal is one thing, but to allege the Y couldnt handle the maintenance costs is ridiculous, the City is the one who cant handle the maintenance costs of these pools, not the Y (and I dont think their donors are going to let the pool go to hell once it is built). It will save the taxpayers of this city money at the same time those same taxpayers wont be subsidizing those durn County taxpayers who refuse to build pools for themselves.
    Questions are reasonable, conspiracy theories are great, but constant complaining is annoying when it is apparent the complainant is unwilling to see how things actually are. This proposal is not happening like Cville Eye says. The reason this proposal has even come this far is to inform the public about its options and provide cost saving collaboration opportunities, certainly not “political payback” and btw it is not a done deal by anyone’s standards.

  • “No doubt the County should contribute…” The County is committed to $3.75M over a period of several years. No more.
    “The Y will only commit to raising $5 mil at this point because shockingly they cannot predict the future”
    “…to allege the Y couldnt handle the maintenance costs is ridiculous…”
    Jennifer, here is a simple question: What will be the total cost of construction for the Y’s facility? Here’s another one: What is the estimated operational expenses for the next ten years? And one more: How much does the Y expect to raise annually from its donors? And the last question: How much is the estimated revenues from memberships?
    “Questions are reasonable, conspiracy theories are great, but constant complaining is annoying when it is apparent the complainant is unwilling to see how things actually are.” I will be able to see more clearly when those four questions are answered (any of them actually). You don’t know, the committee doesn’t know, the City doesn’t know and the Y doesn’t know. Can I complain about pie-in-the-sky government decisions? Does anybody really and truly think the City is going to get something for nothing? Oh, I guess the County will provide pools when the City provides lakes.

  • Has anyone ever seen the financial statement from the YMCA/Boys & Girls clubs?
    From the original meeting I attended at the downtown recreation center and from what I have read and heard about other meetings and discussions about this project no one has ever come up with concrete construction costs. The YMCA is proposing to build a $15-$17M Aquatic/recreation center on city park land and they don’t have two nickels to rub together in their pockets. The original request was for the city to put up the land and donate $2m just as the county has indicated they would do. Now the city is suppose to donate $3.25M or $3.75M depending on who you talk to and donate park land valued at around $5M.
    To me it seems that the YMCA and Boys and Girls clubs are nothing more than a bunch of very bold beggers. If they want these projects they need to raise more money before proposing such a grand project at taxpayers expense.
    These projects only benefit the few, and require a constant stream of the taxpayers money.
    I have never seen a plan on the part of the YMCA or boys and girls clubs as to how they will support these facilities from conception to construction to maintenance once they are constructed. This project needs to be postponed permanently (sp?).

  • Unless you believe that Council has no money sense at all and is totally incapable of handling the City’s money (in other words, dumb), then you ought to ask yourself why is Council spending so much of its time considering a proposal which clearly has no financial foundation, no legs. If it is not the plan (there really isn’t one), then it must be the people. If it’s people then it’s political. If it’s political, then who benefits? The link between the YMCA and Council began before this current Council took its seat, over three and a half years ago. The answer is at the bottom of the same place that’s responsible for the City’s giving the design center $103,000 to “judge” a Water Street design contest over a period of a month and the City’s giving the Urban Garden $18,000. Where is the transparency of those dollars?

  • I cannot see why enough of the citizens of charlottesville have not gotten together to vote these tax and spend liberals out of office.
    I hope enough of us will remember this type of reckless spending when the next council election comes up and vote accordingly.
    Giving away our hard earned tax dollars and our non-replaceable park land to a non-profit organization, with religious affilations, who have no money of their own to invest in the project makes absolutely no sense.
    How can council in all good faith turn down the next religious, non-profit organization who comes before council asking for taxpayer dollars and a piece of public land if they support and fund this YMCA project?

  • Jogger, you ask “How can council in all good faith turn down the next religious, non-profit organization who comes before council asking for taxpayer dollars and a piece of public land…” it all depends upon who’s asking. In recent years, Council has had the smarts to give just about any and every body that asks for money enough money to make them feel grateful. Since most voters in Charlottesville receive or have family members or friends who receive this largesse, they will never vote against the people who so willingly provide tax money for their “cause.” Brillian politics! I have noticed that city employees, even those who do not live in town, spend a lot of time whispering who to vote for (they get annual 4% raises from Council). Did you notice that Haskins’ campaign dealt with financial issues and she lost. Kleeman spoke quite eloquently at the last Council meeting about the budget process (he lost). The three who won didn’t talk about spending at all, and they won. Again, brilliant politics!

  • Parent you demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the YMCA/Boys & Girls Club partnerships.

    You are probably right. But, I have read everything about the proposed YMCA pool that has been published in our local papers and I have attended open council meetings where it has been discussed. So, while I might have a “fundatmental lack of understanding” it is not for lack of trying! In addition, I have lived in Charlottesville for a long time. My children have participated in the city winter basketball league. We have attended games of the YMCA winter basketball league. As anyone who has attended games in both those leagues can tell you, there is a stark difference in the way the city runs their league and the way the Y runs their private one. I do not care for the Y programs. And, I think as a tax paying city citizen, I have a right to voice my opinion and to participate in city run recreational programs.

  • It appears that Council will be voting at its meeting on December 3 on the lease for the Boys and Girls Club. It’s listed as item (d) in the Consent Agenda, so it’s a good possiblity that it will not be discussed at that meeting. They will probably work out the details of the leash (sp) later out of the public’s view. It’ll probably be another sweet deal like the McGuffey Art Center has.

  • And, in case you didn’t see Waldo’s link on the top right to Dave Norris’ discussion of why he supports the YMCAinthePark/City partnership, here’s the link: .
    Norris provides a link at the end of his statement to an excel spreadsheet comparing four concepts (not plans) that’s as interesting for the information that it doesn’t provide as much as it provides. You must click on the word “here” to get to it. One glaring omission are the headings YMCA contribution and Albemarle County contribution, for example. It doesn’t answer the questions I asked above in my post on Nov 27th, 2007 at 10:11 pm, and I predict those answers will never be forth-coming. Take the time to read Norris’ statement; it provides better clarity than I’ve been able to find in the press.

  • Also, there are no specifics provided on the survey Norris quotes. How many people were surveyed? When did the survey take place and what pool of people did they survey? Obviously they didn’t survey the substantial number of city residents who use the city pools.

  • Doesn anybody know if the results of the survey or the survey itself is posted anywhere?

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