Thursday, May 25, 2017

Missed this from yesterday? Disappointing. Is all we’re going to do is “turn back the clock” to 1971?

The City Commission Work Session was last Tuesday night to address the municipal pool at the Beach. There are 4 videos up on YouTube to watch at your leisure now.

“Can I have a strong City Commission please?”
The public comment period to address the problems with the City’s pool at the Beach has been extended. Again. Will we learn anything new? No, of course not. But the City wants to listen anyway.

The City Commission: A rum-drenched cocktail best ordered before or after one of those contentious commission meetings when a lot is said, but nothing is accomplished. Drinking it before the meeting could make the experience more palatable. Downing it after will make you forget everything you’ve witnessed. Forever.”
—Excerpt from City of Lake Worth’s beat reporter at the Post in a story titled, “Signature cocktail ideas for Lake Worth’s new speakeasy” at the Grand Opening of C.W.S. Bar + Kitchen (522 Lucerne Ave.) in May of 2016.

When construction company executives and general contractors hear the news from Tuesday night they will be incredulous. The look on almost everyone’s face when they heard the number $600,000 to make the pool operational and functional again told the story. How is that even possible? Even some of those who are rallying to keep the pool open doubted the number. At least 2 of the electeds on the dais stated they thought the number was too low.

How Kimley Horn, the accountants, came up with that number has to be explained. It’s inexplicable.

That $600,000, we were told, would bring the pool back to it’s operational function as it was in 1971. The only possible explanation is Kimley Horn was using U.S. dollars, adjusted for inflation, from 46 years ago.

The only leadership last night came from Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, commissioners Herman Robinson and Andy Amoroso, and the City Manager, Michael Bornstein. Mayor Pam Triolo provided more anecdotes but no clear direction. Commissioner Andy Amoroso kept stating the facts, the pool loses $600,000/yr to keep open and keeps losing $300,000/yr to stay closed. Amoroso also brought up using money from the County’s penny sales tax to fix the pool. And Commissioner Omari Hardy took a position and then took another position later on.

Mayor Triolo said, “Let’s create a destination” and “Do it once and do it right.” The mayor used the word, “holistically”.

Vice Mayor Maxwell hammered the point home, “the pool has been prostituted.” Used as a political football for too many years. Commissioner Robinson said he’s “not interested in pouring money into the existing pool.”

City Manager Bornstein was left to try and explain the inexplicable: the two City experts come from two totally different perspectives. Bob McCallister was using current business models when he gave his presentation last March to the City Commission, explaining how a water park and modern amenities could make the pool facility sustainable. Dave Stewart from Kimley Horn mentioned possibilities like “alternate layouts”, “a smaller pool”, deck expansion to the west, and vertical expansion as well.

But the public will likely focus on the two numbers. The numbers from Mr. McCallister of $4–5M for a new, upgraded facility juxtaposed with Mr. Stewart’s number of $600,000 will not make any sense. Press reports will certainly muddle the issue even further and those who want to “save the pool” will use the number $600,000 as a rallying cry.

If anyone was hoping the City would take a big step forward last night they will be very disappointed. If anything, it was a step back, or maybe even two steps back. The expert the City hired to look at future concepts and business operations, Bob McCallister, provided his numbers and projections. Dave Stewart from Kimley Horn provided his numbers. If you didn’t know any better you would think they were both talking about different pool facilities in different cities.

Mr. Stewart did not address business operations. He provided a number to re-open the pool. To do that code issues will need to be addressed, e.g., the Florida building code, the Health Dept. will need to be consulted, and he made mention of the state’s Model Aquatic Health Code which has never been formally adopted.

The Coastal Control Line is almost dead center in the middle of the pool. The Casino building is completely east of this line.

To re-open the pool so people can use it once again will need consultants and more studies. Permits will be needed and construction plans created. We learned last night that because the pool facility straddles the Coastal Control Line this will make the planning process much more complicated. Blocked pipes leading to the locker rooms and bathroom facilities will need to be cleared. Toilets and sinks will needed to re-open the facility.

When the pool was open it was losing 15,000 gallons of water per day, 2″ of pool water every single day. And no one knows why yet.

And the experts at Kimley Horn told us the pool can be re-opened and operational for $600,000.

No one is laughing in City Hall today. Everyone’s job just got a whole lot harder. Not what we were all expecting prior to the City Workshop yesterday.