May 21, 2009

Subject: Burbank Swimming

Dear Council Member  -

As you may know, I've been an ardent advocate for opening at least one Burbank pool on a year round basis, with an aquatics program to include lap swimming and other adult services.  This is consistent with 10 year and "Top 5" goals of the City Council.

Last year, all lap swimmers were very pleased with the City Council appropriation of $50,000 to implement this program.  Unfortunately this "trial" was cut short when water leakage was discovered at McCambridge pool.  Swimmers were given some hope in early September that an agreement between the City and School District would open up a high school pool to continue this program.

Since September, I've been driving 12 - 14 miles three or four times a week to a pool for lap swimming, waiting patiently for a Burbank pool to re-open, as the City Council directed last year.

Needless to say, I am VERY disappointed at this time to know that no pool will be open until June 15, the season is scheduled to end August 15 and the City Council "year round swimming" decision is being re-debated.  Further, according to City Manager Michael Flad, this previous decision is, in some manner, linked to discussions on replacing one or both swimming pools.

I attended two community meetings last September on aquatics programs.  My impression from all the comments - there were less than 50 people at both meetings - was that a full season of swimming/aquatics programs is the highest priority and some physical improvements to both pools are also desirable.  There was little support for a grand aquatics facility, which I've heard touted.  To the best of my knowledge, there was never a report on these meetings made available to the participants or the public.

Opening a Burbank pool for a 365 day schedule is NOT linked, in my opinion, to repairs or replacements of any Burbank pool and these should be treated as separate issues.  Rather, I think it is extremely important that the City employees responsible for implementing your City Council goal take a new direction for all facets of pool management.  For example:

1.        Burbank absolutely needs a full-time pool manager and lifeguards.  McCambridge is not open now because they are waiting for high-school students to be trained! 

2.        Funding for a full pool schedule should be part of the Park and Rec budget request, not a special appropriation by the City Council.  The default should be a full debate on deleting this item from the budget.

3.        More consideration should be given to providing aquatic activities to adults.  We are at least 70% of the population!

4.        McCambridge pool should be the full-time facility.  It has solar heating, probably never fully used!

5.        McCambridge locker rooms should be renovated.  This is not important to me, but my wife (Shannon Miller), a life-long Burbank resident, recalls these locker rooms in the same condition as when she swam in the pool 40 years ago!

6.        McCambridge pool should be open from 6 am to 8 pm in the summer and until 7 pm in the winter.   Lap swimming should be offered in the early morning, noon and late afternoon. Every public outdoor pool in this area follows this practice.

7.        A Masters swimming program (and a private age-group program) should be invited to offer a program at McCambridge at a reasonable fee.  The new San Fernando pool charges $6/hour for a 25 yard lane.  This is a small fraction of the rate quoted to a Masters program last year, which caused a withdrawal of their proposal.

8.        Outreach should be made to nearby communities and businesses for citizen and employee participation in aquatics programs, at discounted rates, with expense sharing.  I suggested this directly to Park and Rec last year and doubt if this advice was followed.

I would be very pleased to talk with you directly or by phone on these matters.  I would MUCH rather be swimming, watching basketball, or nearly anything else than speaking at more Council meetings, but it seems there is no alternative.

Thanks for your consideration and the leadership of the City Council on this issue!