His Voice: Put swim center to a vote
by Dave Helm/Submitted to the Tracy Press
Jul 06, 2012 | 3757 views | 16 16 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the Tracy City Council meeting on June 19, during the discussion on the Ellis development agreement agenda item, two things became readily apparent.

As long as the proposed swim center remains tied to the Ellis project, its future will remain uncertain, given the legal vulnerabilities and challenges that face the Ellis project.

Councilman Steve Abercrombie was right when he commented to the swim center advocates present at the meeting that, regardless of what actions the council takes with respect to Surland’s proposal, they would be subject to legal challenge and the swim center will not be built any time soon.

Given the legal challenges facing Ellis, the council wisely chose to consider other funding options for the construction of the swim center that are not necessarily tied to the Ellis project. At the end of the day, this would make Ellis just another development project, which is how it should have been treated all along.It is time to place a referendum on the ballot for the citizens of this town to decide whether they wish to have a swim center constructed as envisioned by the swim center advocates. If so, how do we fund both the construction and ongoing operating costs?

In light of Stockton’s recent filing for bankruptcy protection, and the fact that we continue to struggle with our ongoing budget shortfall, the overall impact of a swim center on the Tracy’s general fund needs to be known.

Only if the citizens of Tracy agree that the swim center is a priority and they are willing to pay for it, should it be considered. Then it would truly be community effort and could then be built sooner than if tied to the Ellis project.

If, on the other hand, the voters do not approve funding of both construction and operation of a swim center, there is no need to waste additional time and effort. The city could then turn its attention to focusing on the development and economic growth needed to balance the city budget, while maintaining public safety and services. The people will have spoken.

We need to provide our City Council with clear direction and a commitment to pay for this amenity in order to get this issue resolved. The proposal for a swim center has languished about for 20 years, with little to show for it other than studies, lawsuits and, in the end, nothing accomplished. The byproduct of which has been mistrust, accusations, personal attacks and the frustration that comes with having nothing to show for the considerable time and money spent.

In a democracy, voters decide what is best for them. It is time for the people to do just that with the swim center — get behind it, or put it aside and move forward with the important budget and quality of life issues confronting our city.

• Dave Helm is a retired police officer and local resident.

Comments
(16)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Ornley_Gumfudgen
|
July 13, 2012
Sittin here musin about this topic that has been goin on fer years an years withoug makin much headway an came on a idea.

Ya don't really have ta wait fer Serpa or Ives or anyone else ta muster th strength ta put this issue on th ballot. But it's gonna require a little personal legwork an elbow grease ta get it on th ballot an perhaps people don't really care enough either way ta get that done.

Just get up a petition ta have th matter placed before th voters on th ballot an be done with th silly banter about who should do what, why an when.

This thang about a swimmin facility has gone on fer close ta two decades an it seems Tracy is no closer or further away from decidin th matter. How many more generations of children need ta grow inta adults before somethang as simple as a swim center is decided?

An we all know th main reason it's been on hold fer years now now don't we? An it has nothin what so ever ta do with traffic, aircraft or anythang else like that an everythang ta do with someone not bein able ta make a wad of cash with thair own personal aspirations by keepin it frum goin forward.

Would have been nice ta sit in a nice cool pool yesterday when it was 109.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
July 09, 2012
This is not really a new idea. It came up at the coffee shop two years ago in November and its no surprise to see it surface again but I was surprised to see the Tracy Press printing these letters maybe people are not even reading the Tracy Press' Staff editorials anymore. Last week the Tracy Press said the majority of the citizens wanted to replace Dr. POower's pool with this because its not much above the cost of Dr. Powers pool? Heck, it would probably cost less to run maintain a newer pool than the old one that they cant get oarts for.
behonestguys
|
July 09, 2012
RedHot - if this not a new idea, why haven't Ives, Serpa and Co. just put this measure on the ballot and let the People make the final decision of what kind of facility should be built and to have us pay for it as a community? years ago? If the swim center is truly something the community wants and is willing to pay for it, then it would've been approved by way of a ballot measure and built already? Would you be willing to support placing it before the voters for a final "up" or "down" vote since it's gotten no where with the politicians, bureaucrats and Les?
Bird_Man
|
July 09, 2012
Hey there behonest - Do you really compare a community swimming pool, or aquatic park, to public utilities and the freeway system?

Wouldn't you say that is a bit of a reach? I certainly will.

So... has there been a recent study on the financial viability of a pool/aquatic park? If it supports itself, then great... build away. If taxpayers are going to be asked to pony up, then I doubt it would pass a vote. Although I could be very wrong considering that people like the idea of a bullet train in this state. Of course that is a comment for another article.
behonestguys
|
July 09, 2012
RedHot- you said in your last blog "why should I pay for it" with respect to a swim center. If our parents and grandparents had that type of mentality, the freeway sysytem, Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge and other public works that we now enjoy would've never been built. That statement of ytours proved my last point- that we've become a snivelling lot as a People, looking always for a free lunch and the other guy to pay for our instant gratifications and nit caring what impact those desired have on future generations. I hope you don't impart these "virtues" in your children.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
July 09, 2012
It is already. Essentially, it is shelved until the lawsuit is over. That is exactly why the proposed "referendum" is convoluted.

That's right. Let the developer pay the legal fees. Why should I vote for a referendum if I would end up paying for it out of my pocket.

If the slow growth movement wants to fight two lawsuits then let them spin their wheels.

Even the judge will one day tell them to go jump in a lake.

behonestguys
|
July 09, 2012
Then maybe the concept of a swim center should be shelved. If people won't step up to the plate and pay for it through a special parcel tax assessed on all properties in Tracy,then it shouldn't be built. Waiting for a sugar daddy developer to help pay for part of it is just another example of the entitlement mentality that has permeated our society. We are struggling to maintain what we already have - why take on the added burden of a swim center. Remember everyone - this is 2012, not 2004, 2006 or even 2008, when everyone thought the good times would never end, including government.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
July 09, 2012
If you say so, but I think the real reason is because the language of the referendum is convoluted.

Perhaps if you wordsmithed it to read more like this...

Do we want to finance it the way the Tracy Press said Stockton financed the parking garages.

I think the answer is clear, rayderfan. If you did not support Measure E this would be the icing on the cake.

Anytime the taxpayers do not have to pay for it they will vote appropriately.

Meaning, if you think a referendum will save the taxpayers money then the idea may get validated outside the coffee shops.

Otherwise, like I said, it simply wont hatch.
rayderfan
|
July 09, 2012
Ives, Serpa and Co have not placed it on the ballot because they don't want the issue to go away if it loses by a vote of the people.

If it loses then how will Ives justify giving Les all of those RGA's, and how will Les justify all the campaign contributions he has made to help Ives get elected?

You see, putting it on the ballot is the only way to take it out of Ives' hands and finally get it built.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
July 09, 2012
behonestguys,

First. Nowhere did I trash anyone and it is certainly not fair to assume so.

Second. It's a fair question to ask someone if they care. But No. It's not fair to say I do not care either way.

When I said I do not care. I meant, that I do not care about a referendum. Why should I ? It solves nothing.

Tell me one thing. Who cares about a referendum, besides someone wanting someone else to do it?

It is a waste of time. And it certainly does not guarantee the lawsuits won't stop.

Now, tell me can you, or anyone else guarantee that the lawsuits will stop?

That is why the referendum NEver got off the ground. And never will.

But, if you author it, I will vote on it.

behonestguys
|
July 09, 2012
RedHot- So, is it fair to say then that you don't care one way or another whether a swim center/pool gets built? If that's the case, then all your blogging about getting a pool built and trashing Mr. Connolly was for naught.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
July 09, 2012
behonestguys,

I did not say it was a good idea. I just said it is not a new idea.

A "referendum" can be put on the ballot by ANYONE.

I don't really care.

If you are agitated by a developer covering the cost, then be my guest.

It's not my problem.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
July 10, 2012
behonestguys,

Bird_Man has keyed in on something you missed. This should be more about the cost. In fact, it always was, until right before election season.

What happened is the idea of a pool costing the taxpayers sounded like polished talking points, until people were told the TP supported the Grand, and it's not doing so bad. And the TP conceded that people also want this ammenity too.

Then the talking points shifted, because nobody wants to be the one to pee in our public pool idea. Well, actually, there are a few people. But who is going to admit to being part of the pool killi g movement? Especially when the pool will replace the cost of the one we already have.

Then, there is the overthetop, rayderfan camp, that says let's get out of the parks/rec/pool business altogether.

Let's be honest. This is really about a lie told to us by pool opposition that the pool will hurt the airport.

The fact is, we've heard nothing but one convoluted argument after another. I just attempted to inject some sanity back into the mochas and lattees.
rayderfan
|
July 08, 2012
What this city should do is get out of the swimming pool operations business, the after school program business and all other businesses that can be better provided by the private and nonprofit sectors. Then they should get back in the business of balancing the budget and providing acceptable levels of public safety and public works services.
behonestguys
|
July 08, 2012
Well said Mr. Helm, well said. It's obvious the People need to step in and make the final call on whether there will be a swim center or not - leaving it to the politicians, bureaucrats and Serpa to make that decision has led to years of litigation, with no tangible results except for wasted time and money. If the People want it and are willing to pay for it, let's get it done. I can respect that - that's what living in a democracy is all about. If the People say "no way" given the current economic climate and what is going on with our neighbor to the north of us (i.e Stockton filing bankruptcy), then let's put an end to this tomfoolery and move on with more important issues that need to be addressed, such as economic development, safe streets and maintaining the public works, parks, amenities and infrastructure we already have.
rosa62
|
July 06, 2012
Once again, Mr. Helm steps forward with a well thought out, intellegent argument on how to proceed with this project.

Let the people of Tracy decide, not the elected officials who obviously use this project as a carrot on a stick to get voters to elect them. Those elected officials who do so know who they are (Mayor Ives).


We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at tpnews@tracypress.com.