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.