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April 12, 2005 > Puerto Penasco Swim Lagoon revisited

Puerto Penasco Swim Lagoon revisited

In 1997, Fremont set aside $35,000 for a redesign study of Central Park's Puerto Penasco Swim Lagoon as a water play facility. Since that time, the lagoon shut down when Niles Beach opened at Quarry Lakes and a conceptual Master Plan evolved through the efforts of Parks and Recreation Services staff and a task force comprised of three Recreation Commissioners, two city staff, three representatives of recreational interest groups, nine citizens of Fremont and one Fremont teen representative.

The proposed timeline, outlined at a Fremont City Council meeting March 5, 2002, called for the new water park to be fully operational in fiscal year 2004/05. Although the timeline has changed, plans are still underway for construction of the facility. TCV asked Fremont Parks and Recreation Director Annabell Holland to comment on the current status of the project.

TCV: What is the current status of plans for redesign of the former Puerto Penasco Swim Lagoon?

Holland: We have interviewed consultants for the design and drawing phase and are currently in negotiations with an excellent team; we will hopefully go to council in May to award the contract. If successful, we would begin a "schematic phase" of approximately two months. Design and drawing will take about six to eight months before we will be able to go out for bids.

The goal is to begin construction summer, 2006; we are targeting Memorial Day 2007 as our grand opening. The schedule is looking very good to be on target with those dates. In fact, we have some buffer room within the timeline.

Our budget is very tight. At this time, we are exploring options to increase the budget because the cost of building materials has been escalating 10 to 20 percent per year since we first priced the project. We are being as creative as possible and making sure not to use General Fund monies or taxpayer dollars. Proposition 12 and Proposition 40 and Operation Improvement reserves from the Recreation Fund balance are still available.

TCV: Has the conceptual design changed?

Holland: The conceptual design has not changed since its last presentation at council although we always knew that the plan had too much water square footage for the feasibility study. It will shrink to no less than 13,000 square feet. The plans currently show about 20,000 square feet, which would be too large.

There may be some changes when we enter the schematic phase with a consultant but we are not there yet. When we get into that phase, the task force will be reassembled so they can protect the integrity of their work. The group was a good community representation and we will show them the schematic and make sure it protects their work.

TCV: This facility was proposed as self-supporting. Is that still a valid assumption?

Holland: It will be self-supporting. The idea is that revenues generated over expenses will support recreation programs supported from our fund balance. Currently we do not have enough income from the General Fund and revenue to pay for the services we are providing. The Recreation Services budget beginning July 1, 2005 will be operating with the help of "fund balance" reserves. Some of the teen services and playground programs will be supported by the fund balance so when the swim lagoon generates revenues, it will support those programs.

TCV: When the swim facility is in operation, will it operate year 'round?

Holland: Although plans call for the water play facility to be closed during winter months, a utility pool is part of the project. It is currently located towards the back of the grounds but will be moved closer to the front. In the future, when things get better and the General Fund comes back, we could open the utility pool all year. That pool would operate independently.

TCV: Are any of the pools covered? Will the pools be heated?

Holland: All will be outdoors. The season would roughly be Memorial Day through Labor Day. The water will be heated, chlorinated...the whole thing!

TCV: Have you consulted with the staff at the Silliman Aquatic Center?

Holland: I have touched base with them and will talk with them again. When it comes to the operational side, we plan - depending on how things work with our consultant and their team - to use a group that operates water parks to help start this up.

TCV: Do you plan to offer swim lessons?

Holland: This is not currently in the feasibility study but they are in the vision of the city - to offer lessons, water exercise, lap swimming, etc. These activities might happen before the facility opens for the day, maybe from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. or noon.

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