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YMCA to run Grass Valley pool

As renovations at the Memorial Park swimming facilities near the final lap, a new operator was selected this week.

Gold County YMCA will run the pool under the auspices of the YMCA of Superior California that already operates pools in Sacramento, Oroville and other regions in the state, the Grass Valley City Council unanimously decided this week.

Mayor Ben Aguilar, who expressed enthusiasm for the contract, said the Y was the only group to step up to offer to operate the pool and will do it cost effectively.



City Manager Tim Kiser said the new pool provides opportunities the former pool did not. First of all, there are now two pools — a children’s pool and a competition pool. The competition pool has eight lanes, six designed for a competition level, which the old pool did not. The older pool also lacked the depth to dive at either end, which the new one will provide.

“So, there’s a lot of additional things we’re doing,” Kiser said. “We’re doing new deck lights, brand new showers and locker rooms and a brand new pool. It’s a facility that’s state of the art. It’s the best pool facility in western Nevada County. I think there’s plenty of options and ways to work with these organizations and get maximized hours for various groups.”




Kiser added he is confident the Y will manage the pool well.

“Their big thing is, how do you bring more programs into this pool?” he said. “How do we have more opportunity for public swimming? And how do we do other things that other communities are doing that we did not have the opportunity to do” at the old pool?

“The Y will provide programs and services the city needs, and the Y is willing to negotiate an agreement with the city and swim groups, as well,” Aguilar said. “This is not a pool specifically for legacy groups, but a pool for our city and the community.”

HOW Y WILL WORK

Zach Quentmeyer, the city community development analyst shepherding the project through the Y negotiations, said that in 2012 the popular swim group Northern Sierra Swimming partnered with the city to operate the pool and did so until the pool closed when the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The group later notified the city they wanted to return to the pool when it reopened as a user group rather than the operator. Around then, the Y expressed interest in running the pool while expanding programs.

Quentmeyer said the Y will continue with the familiar swim lessons, summer open swim, group exercises, general lap swimming, pool parties and coordinating the use of the pool with the legacy users.

“The partnership agreement provides that the city is responsible for utilities and maintenance,” Quentmeyer said. “And the Y will be responsible for operations and hiring, training staff and life guards, collecting fees, daily cleaning and cooperate with the city in operational decisions per the terms of the agreement.”

Council member Bob Branstrom said he was excited to welcome the Y but had a few reservations about the agreement.

He pointed out the Y is formally known as the Young Men’s Christian Association and sought an amendment to the contract that signage posted by the Y exclude any mention of religious affiliation.

“We have rebranded as the Y and are not religiously affiliated,” Superior California Y President and CEO Sharna Braucks explained, noting that the organization is over 150 years old and at its launch such a name was not controversial. “We are a 501 C3 nonprofit. We’re inclusive to all and do not turn away anyone because of religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background.”

Branstrom asked that the contract remove a sentence stating pool discounts would be available to those who joined the Y.

Both Quentmeyer and Braucks agreed that would be eliminated to make discounts consistent for everyone.

Branstrom also requested that since the Y operates several pools across the region, it keep separate books for Grass Valley operations to better track revenue and expense specifically associated with the city, and to retain access to the books by council members and city staff.

Everyone agreed to that.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com


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