The major update is that the City has awarded a contract to the Hughes Group to conduct the Feasibility Study for the 50-meter pool at Chinquapin. The award is scheduled to be announced today. This study is crucial because we have been holding several things up pending the decision about whether a 50-meter pool can even fit in the topography surrounding the Chinquapin Recreation Center.
The Study will also cover other aspects of the pools (the 50-meter and the recreational pools) at Chinquapin. It will develop more precise cost estimates for the new pools, determine if additional features can be included (like for therapeutic swimming), and what impact the Chinquapin complex will then have on the other pools in Alexandria.
The first part – whether the 50-meter pool can fit – is scheduled to be done within 30 days, so given official review time and questions, we expect a formal decision on that aspect will be accepted by the City within the next two months.
The City will have a kick-off meeting with Hughes on 2/27. We’ll check back after that to see if any more information can be shared.
To answer a few questions right away:
- Yes, this is the same group that Arlington is using.
- Hughes will have subcontractors involved.
- There is a different sub doing the cost estimating this time.
- The Hughes bid proposal was significantly better than any other bids.
- They have done a number of pools and athletic facilities, including many in our area. Examples are the Germantown Aquatic Complex, the Yates Field house at Georgetown University, etc.
- The City has warned Hughes that Hughes will have to convince a skeptical public of how they will improve on the Arlington contract performance.
The City’s FY 2015 proposed budget (effective July 1, 2014) will be presented to City Council on Tuesday, February 25th. We have to be careful about two things at least:
- Need to make sure that the $23 million previously approved by the City for new pools remains in the budget ($17.5 million for Chinquapin over a couple of years and $5 million for the other pools in 2018).
- Also need to see the City Manager’s plan for Warwick this summer. Last year he proposed closing it, but citizen resistance convinced City Council to keep it open (by many of you – much thanks). Another campaign will be needed if the current budget targets it for closure.
We will review the budget and pass along any appropriate information.
Along with the possible closure this summer, we need to continue to work with the City and the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS – the owners of the land) on a long term solution to Warwick. It makes little sense to continue to put capital funds into a facility that will possibly close in the future (due to the amount of work needed).
There will be a meeting on February 26th with VTS, the City, AAA, and the Warwick Village Citizens Association (WVCA). This marks the first involvement by the City in talks with VTS. It is a follow-on to the talks that AAA and WVCA have had over the past several months with VTS.
The focus is to determine what level of involvement VTS will have with the pool. This is crucial because there is not enough money in the City’s long term budget to complete all of the repairs needed at Warwick and still improve the other pools in the City.
Park and Recreation Commission Meeting
Some of us attended the Park and Recreation Commission meeting on February 20th. This was in response to a Letter to the Editor of the Gazette by an individual opposing the new pools at Chinquapin and encouraging people to turn out to protest the plans at that meeting.
Turned out to be a non-issue. Nobody turned out to protest. The letter writer wasn’t even there. He had asked a neighbor to read his letter of opposition to the pools. In a strange turn of events, the young neighbor prefaced reading the letter by stating how pleased she and her family are with the plans for the new pools. They use the existing pool frequently and would love to see more pools. Took all of the steam out of the protest letter.
Actually in lieu of any protests, there were a couple of speakers in favor of the pools even though the pools are not technically part of the Park discussion at this time.
We are awaiting a decision by the IRS about our tax exempt status. We expect that decision within the next two months. When the Feasibility Study is done with the first part about the 50-meter pool and we have received IRS approval, we can begin our fund raising effort. The City expects that AAA will be able to generate $5 million in private sector funds to add to the City’s $23 million.
We have had several meetings about partnering with ACTion Alexandria, which is an attractive alternative.
Family Fun Nights at Chinquapin
Just a reminder, the City is hosting Family Fun nights at Chinquapin. For a $4 fee, you and the kids can swim, use new play features in the pool, listen to a DJ, or use other parts of the facility. Please check the schedule on the website of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Activities.