During an agenda item about whether to negotiate with Wild Rivers LLC of Irvine to build a water amusement park at the proposed Ellis subdivision, Director of Development Services Andrew Malik told the council about a new idea to add better aquatics amenities at three sites in town. He identified three community needs for any aquatics solution: recreation, instruction and competition.
The council asked the city staff during the regular council meeting Sept. 17 to explore possible agreements with Wild Rivers and The Surland Cos., developer of Ellis, for a public-private partnership for an aquatics center. Malik did not mention any further negotiations with Surland but did say Wild Rivers was actively trying to address the community’s needs.
“They were very open to working with this council, this city and stakeholders alike, to see if there could be a mix of amenities that could work,” Malik said.
Wild Rivers preferred the Ellis site, at the northeast corner of the project on Corral Hollow Road north of Linne Road, because of its proximity to homes and freeway access.
“With Wild Rivers being very flexible on amenities there may be an opportunity through further negotiations to address those three elements through the community by capitalizing on sites like the Ellis site, West High pool and possibly Joe Wilson (pool),” Malik said.
Molly Lowe, the president of the Tracy Tritons swim team, was one of five members of the public who spoke out about the concept.
“You are changing the whole direction,” Lowe said during the public comment period. “I’m absolutely disgusted. I’m furious. I have spent the past nine years involved in this process to bring a swim center to this community. How many different ways do we need to tell you and staff that Joe Wilson Pool will not, will never meet our needs in the community.”
Lowe, who said she was hosting a swim meet with 800 kids, added that the Tracy Unified School District had placed so many restrictions on using the pool at West High that it was barely useable.
“We’ve told you that West High pool will not meet USA Swimming requirements. You have had experts, brought in by Surland, that will tell you that the West High pool, because of the cutouts of ADA requirements, make it ineligible for USA Swimming regulation meets,” she said.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel said he still wanted a 50-meter competition pool at the Ellis aquatics center, but he wanted to move forward and negotiate with Wild Rivers and explore the staff concept at the same time.
“The Joe Wilson site — it would be very nice to be able to upgrade that. We still need to know what it would take, what it would cost,” Maciel said.
Councilwoman Nancy Young said she favored having options for people all over town, adding that some in the community might be able to better afford the entry fees at community pools. Young added that she wanted the center at Ellis to match the neighborhood.
“My one concern, as far as Wild Rivers building this in the Ellis area, my concern has been the character of the facility. And making sure it that it goes with the community and it doesn’t look like a big amusement park stuck in the middle of houses,” Young said.
Councilman Charles Manne said he just wanted something to happen soon.
“These conversations just seem to be restarting. It’s really time to move,” Manne said. “If we are going to get this right, it’s going to include obviously all of the stakeholders.”
Manne made a motion to approve beginning negotiations with Wild Rivers, which was seconded by Councilman Robert Rickman. The council voted unanimously to move forward.
Malik said the staff would bring the three-site swim concept back to the council at the April 1 regular meeting.
Council selects search firm for city manager
The council also voted unanimously to hire executive search firm Peckham & McKenney of Sacramento to find candidates for the next city manager. The council terminated the contract of City Manager Leon Churchill on March 5.
Interim City Manager Maria Hurtado had recommended three firms for consideration by the council: Peckham & McKenney, Bob Murray & Associates and William Avery & Associates.
Ives said he had a positive personal experience with Peckham & McKenney and recommended the firm to the rest of the council.
The city will pay Peckham & McKenney $24,500 for the search.
Police chief to act as assistant city manager
Hurtado also informed the council that she had appointed police Chief Gary Hampton to be acting interim assistant city manager.
She said Hampton will fill the role for three months, and then she will rotate another city department head into the position for another three months until the council hires a new city manager.
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at email@example.com or 830-4231.