Walnut Creek swim center renovation goes to Michigan firm
WALNUT CREEK — The deteriorating and inadequate Clarke Swim Center will be rebuilt, operated and its scope expanded by a national firm in partnership with the city.
Michigan-based engineering company Harley Ellis Devereaux won the City Council’s nod Tuesday to go ahead with a project the city in 2011 estimated might cost more than $22 million.
It rejected the locally based Walnut Creek Aquatics Foundation plan to team with the Forma Gym for the project.
The city has long planned to renovate the 40-year-old pool complex at Heather Farm Park. It does not meet health or competitive swimming standards, but shrinking fiscal resources led the council to pare back its vision and to seek a financing partner for a less costly renovation.
The aquatics programs the city offers there — lessons and recreational swimming — plus the competitive Aquabears, Aquanuts and Masters programs that pay for their pool time draw an estimated 350,000 swimmers annually.
The Devereaux firm offered what the council majority took to be the least costly and more certain path with its concept of revamping the center, adding an indoor pool, and expanding programs to include year-around swim instruction and a fitness center.
Its funding plan includes seeking benefactors, grants, private partners, expanded memberships in the pool and expanded activities to draw more patrons.
Councilmen Rich Carlson and Justin Wedel and two members of the city’s Park, Recreation and Open Space Commission had interviewed three applicants and selected the Aquatics Foundation and Devereaux as the most qualified. They ruled out a YMCA proposal.
Tuesday, the two voted with Councilwomen Cindy Silva and Loella Haskew to select Devereaux. All expressed doubt that the Aquatics Foundation would be able to raise the necessary money.
Mayor Bob Simmons dissented.
The city intends to continue its ownership and operation of the Larkey Swim Center, which is to have a $4.8 million renovation next year.
Contact Andrew McGall at 925-945-4703. Follow him at twitter.com/AndrewMcGall.