Pool group eyes proposed site
Supporters of a public swimming pool told the Sonoma City Council Wednesday they are zeroing in on a new site, but won’t say where it is.
Speculation that it might be part of the Sonoma Valley Hospital’s medical office and wellness complex on Fourth Street West and MacArthur Street was fueled by the presence of Kelly Mather, hospital CEO; and Bill Buchanan, owner of Parkpoint Club. But both Mather and Buchanan said the site is “just too small” to house an Olympic-sized swimming pool and the parking that would be required for it.
Buchanan said the hospital’s priorities are a 30,000-square-foot office building, medical fitness center and parking for both buildings – plus the existing hospital. He emphasized that no project has been submitted to the city at this time, and plans are still “up in the air.” The wellness complex is proposing two small pools – a therapy pool for seniors and possibly a lap pool – nothing that would allow for nine swimming lanes and bleachers.
Councilmember Steve Barbose asked if the site would be large enough if the city contributed its half-acre park site which is adjacent to the property. Buchanan said he didn’t know, but the objectives of the hospital are paramount.
Sonoma Valley Hospital has a long-term lease on what is known as the Carinalli property, and proposes to use it for parking. Plans are also underway for a medical office building, proposed by a private developer, and a new Parkpoint facility that would emphasize medical fitness. The current Parkpoint Club at Maxwell Village would be retained, said Buchanan.
Sam Coturri, spokesman for the Sonoma Valley Health and Recreation Association (formerly Citizens United for a Swimming Pool), said his group is pursuing a preferred site, but “this time we are holding our cards close to our chest.” They have abandoned the idea of purchasing the old Sonoma Truck and Auto Center site on Broadway and MacArthur.
In his report, which the council has asked to receive quarterly, Coturri said they have adopted a name used by a former group created to find a pool site in years past.
The new organization is now a formal nonprofit, and has hired a firm to conduct a feasibility study to determine “what the community wants and needs.” A component of the study will be a community survey that will be done by the firm.
He also said a capital campaign is beginning, along with lower-level fund-raising. “We want to build support in the community,” he said.
“This may seem like baby steps to us,” said Councilman Tom Rouse, “But the group is dedicated to making this happen. Hats off to them for thinking outside the box. That’s what it will take.”
Last February, the group presented their ideas to the public and at that time the plan, prepared by Sonoma architect Sidney Hoover, called for a nine-lane swimming pool, a therapy pool, wading pool, an 80-foot-long climbing wall built to international standards and a 25-meter wall. They also hoped to include a dance/Pilates studio suitable for ballet and aerobics. The walls and studio would be housed in separate structures. A support building would contain lockers, toilets, showers, and retail space. Coturri, in his report, did not say if any of the plans have been modified.
Those wishing to find out more about the sports complex, or who wish to make a tax-deductible donation, may email Coturri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In two “feel good” actions, the City Council honored two of Sonoma’s most celebrated citizens and refinanced debt, saving the city $722,000.
Mayor Joanne Sanders read a proclamation naming Sept. 5, Marcia and Gary Nelson Day in Sonoma, to the applause of a room full of Nelson fans. The Nelsons have donated time and money to many Sonoma causes, but most recently gifted the Sonoma Valley Hospital with $3 million for an emergency room to be built in the hospital’s new addition.
In another action, the council voted to take advantage of lower interest rates and refinance an employee pension obligation called a “side fund” which would save the city $381,950 over a nine-year period. It also voted to refinance existing bond debt for a water storage tank, saving the city’s water fund $340,000 over the remaining, 19-year life of the bond.