The Chair of the Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics sent the following letter out on January 6, 2017 to the full mailing list of AAA members. He is asking all members to contact the City Council and the City Manager and support the proposed 50-meter pool at Chinquapin. Any website visitors are welcome to send messages also.
I am reaching out to each of you because we are at a critical juncture for the proposed 50-meter pool at Chinquapin. As I told you in a previous message, in November 2016, Alexandria’s City Manager decided to stop the award of the design contract for the Chinquapin facility, citing the need to reevaluate the major capital projects being considered by the City.
This was a very disappointing and unfortunate decision by the City Manager. In May 2016 the City Council voted unanimously for $4.5 million to begin the design process of the 50-meter pool at Chinquapin. The City Manager himself signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AAA during the summer to keep the project moving forward. The City was just days away from awarding the contract to a well-known firm that specializes in the design of aquatics facilities. Yet, the City manager still put the process on hold.
At that time, I wrote to you asking you to contact the Council and the City Manager expressing your support for the new pool. The results were disappointing. The City Manager received 4 messages; one of the Council members got 11. At the same time, they also received over 200 messages about the TC Stadium project! The Manager is thinking that he made the right call because very few people objected to his decision to place a hold on the design contract for the Chinquapin facility.
If you care about the new pool, you must immediately write to both the Council and the City Manager.
We need at least 100 messages sent before we meet with the City Manager on January 18th. You are the most important ones that they will listen to.
Many thanks to those who already did send a message, but we need your fellow aquatic supporters to also send that message. I am asking each member on the AAA mailing list to send two messages (one to Council and one to the City Manager) and to ask 3 other friends or relatives to do the same. Pick out a reason from the list below and include it in your message.
We have included below the direct links to the email addresses through the Call, Click, and Connect mechanism used by the City to count messages.
Unless you send those messages, the future of the 50-meter pool at Chinquapin is very much in doubt. And, unless the City Manager quickly reverses his decision it will be virtually impossible to remain on the timeline that would have led to a completed pool in late 2018. Further delays in the design and construction of the facility will put its future in serious doubt.
Since November the board of AAA has engaged in several meetings with the City leadership, local reporters and community leaders to communicate why a new pool is a worthy investment by the community of Alexandria.
AAA also has been working with a local firm to determine the return on investment for the City that could be generated by a new 50-meter aquatics facility. It will indicate that a new aquatics facility creates ample opportunity for private sector sponsorship that, in turn, generates an ongoing and stable stream of revenue to the City beyond the traditional means of cost recovery used by the City – and reduces the need for tax dollars to support the operation of the pool.
Combined with previous studies commissioned by the City that showed the current aquatics infrastructure only meets 20 percent of Alexandria’s needs, the study being developed by AAA further demonstrates that there is both a need for a new facility and a unique opportunity for the City to tap into private sector revenue to help cover its construction and operational expenses. This could well serve as a model for use with other City facilities and reduce the demand for tax dollars.
In the coming weeks City Council and the City Manager will begin work on the 2018 budget. Therefore, time is of the essence. Send those messages! The City is facing a number of significant capital projects, and the 2018 budget will force the City to make some tough decisions on what is funded and what is not.
You do not need to send a long message – simply tell City Council and the City Manager that you support the new pool at Chinquapin.
- the need for all kids to learn how to swim (7,500 kids in Alexandria do not know how to swim and AAA has had conversations with ACPS to integrate swimming into the PE curriculum for all students);
- the need for Alexandria residents of all ages to have access to a pool for their activities;
- the need for the swim teams at our local schools to have a place to practice and hold home meets; and
- the need for more pool capacity when a City-sponsored study showed that only 20 percent of Alexandria’s aquatics needs are being met.
We will have various organizations reach out to the City Manager and City Council as well, but nothing says it better than private citizens sending their own message.
As always, thank you for your support.
Chair, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics