Snark Infested Waters ~ Bob Edwards

Bob Edwards


A Splash in the Punchbowl

Posted on December 22, 2015 by Bob Edwards

For reasons shortly explained, it’s looking like the folks hoping to build a community swimming facility on Verano Ave across from Maxwell park have dived into a public relations swamp of their own making.  They are Sonoma Splash, a non-profit which in 2014 announced plans to build a world-class swimming facility for the community.

They promised that kids in the city of Sonoma and the Springs area would finally get a much-needed place where they could swim and play, with other amenities where adults could exercise and eat.  As its website states, “Sonoma Splash will offer a broad array of amenities and activities and will be a vibrant community hub that is welcoming to all.”

Turns out, the so-called community pool – a partnership with privately-owned Parkpoint Health Club and others — will mostly welcome all those who can afford the membership dues. Splash has nothing on its website that suggests it has any idea of how many potential dues-paying members there are, or are needed to make the venture viable, or who might actually sign up, assuming the $12 million to build it can be raised from the Usual Suspects.

Nor are there are any projected operating costs on the website, without which it’s difficult to guess how much the dues will be, or other revenue required to make it work.   The price of dues will determine how many kids and families in the community will be able to afford to join the pool, which will apparently be a community facility just like the Sonoma Valley Country Club, where all golfers who can afford the dues are part of ‘the community.’

Of course, Splash may again hit up the City of Sonoma to subsidize pool operations.  In October, 2014 they persuaded City Council to contribute $25,000/year for 10 years once the pool is built, in exchange for swim memberships — scholarships – for kids living not just in the City but anywhere in the Valley.  How many kids, or how they’ll be chosen, was not specified.  That wasn’t important for then-Council members, two of whom sat on the Splash board of directors but politely recused themselves from voting on the subsidy.

Now, short on construction cash, Splash recently announced it is bringing in a new partner — a developer — to build houses on what is now the site of Paul’s Field, an iconic ballpark on the pool site property and beloved by generations of little leaguers and their families.

That’s when the Splash hit the fan.  It seems that in order to gain community support for the pool, Splash had promised to preserve Paul’s Field as part of the pool facility.  A board member was quoted thusly: “We see the baseball field as an integral part of the community center,” emphasized board member Kremer, quashing rumors the new pool facility would discard the 50-year agreement with Sonoma Valley Little League and take out the field.” (Sonoma Index Tribune, April 7, 2015)

Mad as hell, Paul’s devotees have launched a social media campaign decrying the double-cross.   They have a “Save Paul’s Field” Facebook page and hope to radicalize 1,000 or more supporters.  That‘s formidable opposition for any development needing community support and county permits.  Not to mention lots of water.

Stay tuned as Splash carefully explains how Pauls’ will be an even more ‘integral part of the community center,’ once it becomes a housing development.

3 thoughts on “A Splash in the Punchbowl

  1. I think there is a community meeting today on this. Maybe at Paul’s Field itself. I’ll have to research.

  2. Bob,
    I live next door to the proposed site of the pool. Right on the property line, to be exact and have gone to the community meetings that they have held. The feeling that I’ve gotten is that they don’t know what they are doing, nor do they care about the senior neighbors. The first thing that they said was that the pool wouldn’t pay for itself, so it would have to be a multi-purpose facility. I got a petition signed by many of the residents here asking for an indoor pool, sound walls, and a buffer zone. We are literally feet from the proposed facility. They would not even consider making it an indoor pool, which to us would make it usable year round, be quieter and less expensive to maintain. They wanted to put a walking path along the creek, which is a very fragile eco-system, and a bridge over Verano Ave. for the kids from the Boys and Girls Club. Can you imagine the noise from all of the screaming kids, cars coming and going and people talking and yelling at all hours, right between two senior housing complexes? FAHA and Lazzarotto’s. Many of the residences are ill and are housebound, so can’t get away from the construction or operating noise. These aren’t people that are up early and out all day. The whole thing seems ill conceived and unnecessary. A pool at Maxwell Farms or the high school would make more sense. Keep it away from where people are living just a few feet away.

    Linda Bryan

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