Letter to the Editor | Why we support the Piedmont Community Pool project

Jen and I have long been supporters of replacing the community swimming pool. Despite its flaws, our community pool provided a place for residents to gather in the center of town, to interact with one another in a relaxing outdoor environment and to watch our children safely play. But the facility wasn’t ideal for our sports teams and our student athletes (many exited Piedmont as a result) and the facility was in disrepair and tired in a way that made it less useful even for its primary purposes.

In 2020, voters overwhelmingly supported Measure UU to raise $19.5 million in bonds to build a new pool complex.  There was a thorough public process both before and after Measure UU to discuss the scope and features of the new facility that would best serve the needs of our community.

Since the passage of UU a number of things have happened to impact the project. Some broke in our favor (the bonds were issued in a very low interest rate environment), and some not (construction costs skyrocketed the past two years, requiring a $4 million reduction in the project scope).

Last month, the City wisely rejected the initial construction bids that came in too high and launched a second round of bidding. The second round went much better and the City can now move forward with construction costs consistent with its estimates.

But with inflation, the money available from UU is not sufficient to cover a number of very important features of the complex. These include a scoreboard, starting blocks, a poolside room for community events, and importantly making sure the dimensions of the pools don’t have to be cut so we can allow for a full-sized competition option and a shallow end of the recreation pool for swim lessons and play. The Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO), which raised funds successfully to complete the Hampton Park renovation and the Corey Reich Tennis Center, has agreed to raise $2.1 million to bridge the gap and secure these features.

Our family has committed to make a substantial lead gift to this effort. Why? The simplest answer is “community.”

The pool complex will be integrated with the newly refurbished Tennis Center, creating an opportunity for the community to gather, a focal point for our city, a place where children, families, and Piedmonters just looking to relax can spend time together in a healthy environment at modest expense. It will allow swim lessons for children and adults, as well as adaptive exercise programs. And our swimming and water polo teams, who now spend over $40,000 annually to rent other pools, will finally have a home to practice their sport.

I’m writing to ask all Piedmonters to consider joining us with a donation to support this important community effort by going to the PRFO web site HERE.  While the $2.1 million fundraising goal is more ambitious than Hampton and the Tennis Center, this is a 50-year capital improvement project that multiple generations will enjoy. Many of our civic organizations have already pledged substantial sums. A hallmark of Piedmont is the public private partnerships that have improved our city and maintained the special feel in our town (including Dracena Park and Exedra Plaza).  When we do a project like this, we do it right. That’s why I’m asking our community to consider stepping in to make sure that the final project is one we can all be proud of and one that fully meets the needs of our residents and our kids.

Abe Friedman served on Piedmont City Council from 2002-2009 and as mayor from 2008-2009.

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