Some updates & info:
From Bill Rivers, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Public Contractor Meeting:
There will be the second public forum with the City's contractor doing the Chinquapin study. This will be held on September 3rd (Wednesday) in the evening. It will probably be at TC Williams High School or Chinquapin, but is still being finalized. I will let you know as soon as I hear something definitive on the start time and the location. You are encouraged to attend to make sure your views are known to the contractor. This will probably be the last formal public opportunity to provide input before they conclude their study.
AAA Contractor Meeting:
Prior to the public contractor meeting, there will be a separate meeting just between AAA and the contractors. This will be this coming Wednesday, August 6th. Time and location are still being determined by the City, but you all are invited to that meeting as well. This is an opportunity to ask detailed questions in a more focused environment, as well as to have in-depth discussions with the contractor's staff. As with the public meeting, I'll send something out as soon as I hear the details of the location and the time.
Tax Exempt Status:
Good news! AAA just received the IRS approval for its tax exempt status last week. The approval is retroactive to November 15, 2012, when AAA was first formed. This will now allow us to get even more active in fund raising. Look for notices coming soon about events being sponsored for AAA. Please attend if you can. If you'd like to send a donation check right now, please send it to:
Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics
15 West Mount Ida Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305
Whatever you donate is now tax deductible!"
"Alexandrians Come Together to Discuss Chinquapin’s New 50-Meter Pool
June 16, 2014
Curiosity was in the water as community members got their first glimpse of the proposed layouts for an expanded Chinquapin Recreation Center. Approximately 40 people attended the first public meeting regarding the Chinquapin Swim Center feasibility study, which took place on June 12 in the Minnie Howard School Cafeteria. Attendees were greeted by six schematics depicting various ways that a 50-meter pool could be added to the site, then invited to sit in groups around idea boards to share their opinions on the type of programing they would like to see incorporated.
The meeting was the first step of the civic engagement portion of the study (also referred to as Task 1B). Hughes Group Architects also gave an overviews of their findings and explanations of the pros and cons of each of the schemes. Hughes Group Architects was awarded a contract in March to lead the feasibility study.
“The bottom line is we feel that there is room to accommodate a project,” said Amado Fernandez, principal of Hughes Group Architects.
That determination was made after analyzing the constraints and challenges of the site, the surrounding market area, Chinquapin’s usage, as well as three years of historical financial data.
“It is important to remember that these schemes are intended to show different options available – pluses and minuses. You shouldn’t look at this as pick the best one and go,” said Fernandez as he emphasized the importance of citizen input and how that will influence the final recommendation, which is anticipated to be made to the City Council in November 2014.
Thus, the bulk of the evening was reserved for focus group activities to gather feedback from citizens about the potential uses of the new 50-meter pool and enhancements for the existing indoor pool. Initial reactions were diverse.
Mary Parker, a member of the city’s Commission on Aging, attended the meeting to speak up for the elderly and those with disabilities. Whereas, Jamie Holder, Georgetown University’s head swimming and diving coach, would like to see a facility capable of hosting a Big East Conference meet. Then there were those such as Andy Findlay, who use Chinquapin’s park space for walking and would like a design that would be the least intrusive on the open areas, playground and courts. Parents with small children wanted to see the playground preserved and ensure that there would be family-friendly amenities. And regular lap swimmers such as Jim Pawlik, who uses Chinquapin four to five times per week, were relieved to hear that the current pool would remain open during construction of the 50-meter pool.
However, they all were concerned about the impact on parking. While some of the options would have little effect on the current available spots, those options would have other drawbacks in terms of imposing on the Resource Protection Area around Taylor Run or the storm water management area.
Advocates for Alexandria Aquatic’s Chairman Bill Rivers also drew attention to the issues that the City of Arlington is experiencing with the proposed Long Bridge Aquatic Center.
“Increase our comfort level that this will work better than Arlington,” said Rivers.
Fernandez replied that while the Long Bridge project is also led by his company, “it has a very different set of constraints and challenges.”
Laura Durham, open space coordinator for the City of Alexandria, added that the city is sensitive to Arlington’s issue and that’s why there is a heavy emphasis on the feasibility study.
The evening concluded with an overview of the next steps in the process. A second public meeting is slated for August, with a date still yet to be determined. A survey also will be sent to randomly selected citizens. Hughes Group Architects has chosen Concordia, LLC to lead the community engagement stage which involves collecting and analyzing all the feedback from the meetings and survey.
“I was very happy to participate,” said Pawlik. “This event was really well done.”
Summing up the meeting, Rivers added, “This is a good start to a long-overdue solution to the City’s pool problems. The current pools are in poor condition or overwhelmed by so many users. Adding a new 50-meter pool will give our residents more than 20 new swimming lanes to use, along with a state of the art recreational pool for family fun.” The Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics have encouraged city planners, in designing the new pools, to not only meet existing needs, but to build for the future so all Alexandrians—young and old—will have an opportunity to learn how to swim and to enjoy the sport that so many love."
Renderings of the six proposals can be downloaded in a PDF at this link..
Considering that the current Chinquapin pool is 1.5 inches short, a primary concern should be getting the size correct!!
No wonder my times there are fast. - Happy Swimmer :)
The latest, from the aptly named coordinator bill Rivers:
"Group: I wanted to confirm the second public meeting with the consultant contractor on the Chinquapin pools - it will be Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at the T. C. Williams High School Cafeteria, starting at 7:00 pm. Just got the meeting site confirmed late last week. Great opportunity for any of you to present your ideas on what you'd like to see with the 50-meter pool and the family/recreation pool.
Let me take advantage of also passing along some more information to you - it has been a very busy week for our group.
On Monday, some of us went to Richmond to see the stainless steel 50-meter pool operated by SwimRVA (formerly the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership - GRAP). Very impressive operation and a very good discussion with the executive director there. A summary of that trip is enclosed.
On Tuesday, we had a meeting on our website to determine how we can adjust it so that we can collect on-line donations. We are impressed with Razoo as a collection tool. It is used by several charities and offers a secure process that also handles much of the administrative side of donation collection - reporting, sending out tax recognition notices, etc. We are reviewing it further, but we hope to have the website modified in the near future.
On Wednesday, we met with the consultant contractor to discuss Chinquapin. Again, another good meeting. A summary of that is also attached.
On Thursday, I talked to City staff to confirm that we essentially have 2 years to collect the $2.5 million for Chinquapin. Then another year for the remaining $2.5 million for the other pools. Things will really pick up on fund raising this fall and we will need some help from you all. Donate if you wish, but as importantly, please let us know if you can help with the fund raising - hosting a fund raiser, contacting somebody about hosting one, knowing a contact at a business or foundation that we can follow up with on a donation, being aware of a grant program that we can apply to, volunteering to work on fund raising, etc. Just send me an e-mail with the info and we'll get going on it.
On Friday, we met with representatives of the Alexandria Economic Development Office to discuss handout material that we can use when we visit potential donors. They have a lot of good stuff. They also have lists of the top 20 businesses in the City, the top 20 nonprofits/associations, etc. Good leads for us to follow up on.
We have also developed a business plan this week for distribution to potential donors so they can see what our strategy is for reaching our collection goal. A copy of the 8 page plan and the one page executive summary is attached for your review.
A lot of progress - with more to come. Hopefully, we'll see you on September 3rd on Chinquapin! Please let me know if you have any questions.
Alexandria is now fielding public comments on the plan.
Add your voice to more swimming opportunities in NOVA!:
There is now an organization to build support for and help raise funds for the pool, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics.
It has a website, through which you can get involved:
Thanks for keeping us updated on this Ed!
ditto, thanks, Ed! I'll check out the website. Would love a 50m pool in my backyard!
Some good news--
"Dear Mayor Silberberg and members of the City Council:
We at the Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics (AAA) are writing you because a couple of very positive items have been given to you recently regarding aquatics in Alexandria. First, the feasibility study for the 50-meter pool at Chinquapin was presented to you last month. This study represents an important and exciting milestone in the process to build an aquatics facility that will accommodate the needs of our city’s residents. Second, the City Manager’s proposed budget for FY 2017 included the funds for the new Chinquapin facility spread over FY 2017 and FY 2018, as well as funding for other aquatics projects.
Regarding the cost estimate at Chinquapin, a year ago we were told that the cost of such a facility would total around $30 million, a significant increase over the amount allocated in the CIP, and the local press pronounced the pool “dead in the water.” Yet AAA believed strongly that a 50-meter pool could be built for substantially less than that, and we worked closely with city staff, requesting that the balance of the feasibility study contract be redefined to evaluate a whole host of lower-cost options.
We commend city staff, especially Laura Durham, for listening to our ideas and suggestions, and for developing a plan that directed the consultants to proceed not only with soil testing and geotechnical testing to more precisely estimate the contingency costs but also to consider some different types of structures.
We commend the Hughes Group for their willingness, after a contentious public meeting last year, to “go back to the drawing board” on their assumptions about what a new 50-meter pool could look like.
This is a model for how government should work. We now have a much clearer idea of how much the new 50-meter pool will cost, and we know that a pool can be built within the budgeted amount. Moreover, public support remains strong for such a pool. In a recently completed survey by the Alexandria Times, 76% of the respondents favored spending money on a new 50-meter pool at Chinquapin.
The City Manager’s proposed FY 2017 budget takes that new cost estimate and makes it a reality. It has initial funding of $4.5 million in FY 2017 for the design contract and $17.85 million in FY 2018 for the actual construction. We understand that the FY 2018 funding includes a $2.5 million private sector contribution and we are actively working to accomplish that.
As you move forward on the budget, AAA reiterates our support for the Chinquapin funding, as well as the funding proposed for the new pool at Warwick and other aquatic initiatives contained in the City Manager’s proposed budget.
Considerable progress has been made. Now it is time to keep up that momentum, and AAA will continue to be an active partner with the city in that process.
Chair, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics"
Several ways to contact Alexandria government to support funding for the 50-meter expansion:
And join lobbying org Alexandria Aquatics:
Between now and the City Council’s May 7 vote, here is how you can help: •Contact the Mayor and City Council members and express your support for the pool. Your message can be as simple as "I support the new 50-meter pool at Chinquapin and am counting on your support also."
•Join our effort. Write to us at email@example.com if you know of businesses or individuals who may be interested in financially supporting this project.
•Forward this email to others who likewise wish to see a 50-meter pool in Alexandria.
•Donate at our website. All contributions are tax-deductible, and we welcome employer matching funds. http://alexandriaaquatics.com/
community by purchasing an eye-catching "Fuel the Pool" car magnet ($10 each, or free with a $50 donation). Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like one.
If you'd like to contact the Mayor, Council, and City Manager on this, it would be appreciated--
"Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics (AAA) Membership:
Well, it wouldn’t be normal not to have a challenge in our Chinquapin project. We just received word of the latest one – a decision by the City Manager to hold off awarding the design contract for Chinquapin due to a re-evaluation of capital projects. This re-evaluation is because of the large capital needs of the school system and of the need for repairs to existing facilities throughout the City. The re-evaluation will extend beyond the design contract to the entire Chinquapin pool project.
We are strongly opposed to this decision. While we fully support additional investments in our community schools, the new facility at Chinquapin is critical to ensuring that the more than 7,500 kids in Alexandria who don’t know how to swim can acquire this life skill. We have been working closely with the ACPS staff to create an aquatics section within the P. E. curriculum in every school in the City so that every child in the Alexandria school system has access to swim lessons and water safety instruction. Without the 50-meter pool at Chinquapin, it will be impossible to implement that curriculum because the existing facility simply does not have enough space. Delaying the construction of the 50-meter pool prevents the children of Alexandria from learning a skill that will benefit them throughout their life – and potentially save their life.
Earlier today we sent a letter to the City Council expressing our displeasure and asking for their support (see the AAA website later for a copy of that letter). We will also be taking a number of other actions to counter this move, including: meeting with the Council members; briefing local reporters; meetings with other interested organizations for support; etc. But the most important thing that we can do is to ask you all to help ensure the new Chinquapin pool is completed in 2018!
We must convince the City Council and the City Manager of the widespread support for the pool in our community. The best way to do that is to ask you to contact the Council and the City Manager and tell them that you support the new pool at Chinquapin.
That you support the need for all kids to learn how to swim; the need for all residents to have access to a pool for their activities; the need for our local schools to have a place to practice and hold home meets; the need for more pool capacity when a City study shows that only 20% of aquatics needs are being met now. We will have various organizations reach out to them as well, but nothing says it better than private citizens sending their own message.
You can contact the Mayor and City Council here and the City Manager here. This is a critical time for the Chinquapin pool. We are so close to realizing that dream – help us all get there by sending your message!
The timing is such that this comes when we are in the middle of our #GivingTuesday fund-raising campaign (November 29). We have decided to continue the fund- raising effort since we will need to continue to fight for the Chinquapin pool. So please give if you are able. To those many who have already given – thank you!
And please attend the #GivingTuesday party at Fairlington Pizza on the evening of November 29 (see the AAA website for more details). Several members of the Board will be there to thank you in person.
While this delay is unfortunate, we are still optimistic that this pool will be built. Too many people in the community need it. Please check the website periodically for updates.
Chair, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics"