The City Council directed the staff Tuesday night to draft a Capital Improvement Project to fix the pool in the next fiscal year. Joe Wilson Pool is the only element of a proposed citywide aquatics solution that is wholly controlled by the city.
The city is negotiating with Wild Rivers LLC, a Southern California company, to build a water theme park, potentially at the Ellis development in west Tracy, and it must negotiate with Tracy Unified School District if it wants to change the layout and availability of Pinkie Phillips Pool at West High School.
Tuesday, the council separated Joe Wilson Pool from the rest of the aquatics plan for Tracy — following two hours of discussion and public comment.
“Regardless of what we decide with the larger pool direction,” Mayor Brent Ives said, “it seems as though the majority of our thoughts is to do something at Dr. Powers.”
Several people questioned whether the city should be in the business of providing public swimming. Others suggested that an aquatics solution should be put to voters, which would also gauge public support.
Several swim use groups and members of the Tracy Tomorrow & Beyond aquatics facility subcommittee, formed by the council in 2005 to survey the community’s needs, said the community had already spoken and recommended that the city return to earlier plans for a publicly run aquatics center at the Ellis site.
Acting City Manager Maria Hurtado said her staff would prepare a CIP that would describe the scope of and funding for fixing the pool and add it to the 2014-15 budget to be approved by the council June 3.
Mayoral terms discussed
The City Council engaged in a discussion of changing the term of office for future mayors from two to four years.
Ives, who is the first mayor to have his tenure ended by term limits, first suggested the change during the May 6 regular meeting.
“I’m looking at the overall guidance and governance for the city of Tracy in the future,” Ives said. “I just believe that, in terms of what the city is going to be going through in the foreseeable future, a certain amount of consistency, with the ability every four years for the electorate to be able to speak, is an important benefit for the city.”
Councilman Robert Rickman provided a counterpoint to the mayor’s argument to put the issue on a ballot for the citizens of Tracy to decide.
“We currently serve two terms here on council for a total of eight years and two terms as mayor for four years for a total of 12 years. With this proposed amendment, we would increase that total from 12 to 16 years. This is in direct opposition to of what the voters wanted and approved,” Rickman said, referring to the passage of Measure T term limits in the November 2008 election.
The councilman added that there was no concrete case to prove the supposition that the city would be troubled by a lack of long-term consistency in the mayor’s office.
“The term limits ordinance has yet to term out anyone. As Mr. Ives said, he will be the first one,” Rickman said. “There have been no facts or evidence to support the claim that lack of experience would impair the city in doing its business.”
Several members of the public spoke on both sides of the issue, some in support of allowing voters to decide the matter. At the end of the 41-minute public hearing and council discussion, the issue was not moved forward.
The mayor said he did not want the city of Tracy to lose influence or opportunities because of rapid changes in leadership but conceded that without an advocate in the public to lead the campaign, the issue was dead for now.
“If I’m the only ringer of the bell here, it’s not likely to be something that would really work,” Ives said. “I think we’ll find out as a city just how it works soon enough. Maybe after that happens a few times, maybe we’ll see that it does merit change.”
City, PG&E to replace street lights
Hurtado announced during her report to the council Tuesday that the city and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. would replace 682 streetlights across the city with LED bulbs.
Crews will install lights along five major roadways: Grant Line Road, Tracy Boulevard, Schulte Road, West 11th Street and MacArthur Drive.
Hurtado said the retrofit would save the city 50 percent of its electric and maintenance costs for those lights.
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