Written by Tom Ament
Were you asking for input at the pool forum or a rubber stamp?
It is not easy to attend the pool forum and evaluate a number of visual slides of data as well as considerable verbal comments from the presenters that lasted close to 45 minutes or more. As attendees, we were allowed roughly 30 minutes for questions and answers to the presenters. This made it difficult to listen to others while trying to formulate some decent questions. I was able to ask a question about how the pool fit that in our priorities for infrastructure, considering I had not seen a decent three-year or five-year forecast since at least 2010. To my recollection, no one really answered that question. However, I’m glad I took a board member’s advice to attend the pool forum meeting last night. I think you should read my concerns and questions before the next board meeting to vote on this project.
HSV pool presentation by Director of Recreation
Why have pool meeting at dinnertime?
At the outset, Stacy Hoover showed a chart with a substantial number of names of people in the village that were involved with the pool project either in round tables or in committees or subcommittees. I was left with the distinct impression that at least two-thirds of the people attending the meeting may have been in favor of the project. This raises the question as to why the meeting occurred at 5:30 in the evening which is dinnertime for most people in the village.
Difficult to agree with actual numbers
The detail on the design of the pool by the outside corporation was very professional and it’s obvious that there was a lot of thought put into it. However, there was absolutely no mention of how much the cost of the pool increased because of the slope and the location of the pool. When it came to the chart on potential revenue and expenses I found it very difficult to agree with the actual numbers.
At the board meeting on February 20, Stacy indicated that the revenue numbers were very soft because she had no record of those people who signed up for both the fitness center and the pool. Yet she displayed a new financial number of expected revenue. This contained no data as to the fees that would be charged or the makeup of the people using the pool. Also, I saw no real clear delineation between yearly operational expenses for the pool versus the revenue. My guess is the subsidy has the potential for being much larger than her numbers.
Lifeguard suggestion is alarming
When I look at the number of people that could use the pool on a particular day I find it even more alarming that we were considering staffing for lifeguarding the pool only on the weekends. I also believe that given the size of the pool and the operation we are going to have a hard time convincing our insurance company that we are not creating a considerable liability risk. This is a large deep pool not some small pool in a motel.
Pool Concession Issues
Stacy shared data about concession issues and what kind of snacks we could or could not provide the people visiting the pool. I found it quite disturbing that they could expect the DeSoto club could help make up for that shortfall especially from a logistical point of view. Also, there was no detail for anticipated concession revenue and whether that money would be retained in evaluating the whole process of running the pool and not diverted to food and beverage as we did for the Waypoint operation.
Attendance and parking issues
Another slide attempted to compare daily attendance at the pool versus the daily attendance that might occur on a particular golf course. What that slide fails to recognize is the combined total of golfers on a daily basis is way higher than any attendance at the pool in the amount of revenue from golf is much greater. Also, there is no mention of the current status of parking conditions in the area and cost to upgrade the same.
HSV Pool Presentation by CEO
Comparison of Apples to Oranges
The CEOs portion of the pool forum presentation showed a very difficult to read slide of an outside realtors Internet site reporting preferences of people in communities across the country. Trails came in first and golf came in last and pools were somewhere in the middle. Time and time again Hot Springs village has presented itself as an almost unique in retirement operations in the country. Apples and oranges? I fail to see how that chart was applicable to the decision process we were trying to make. She also compares to other retirement places but again many of them are not near as unique as HSV as we also have three good beaches for swimming.
Difference between critical & “nice to have” infrastructure
Lesley also discussed at length the definition of infrastructure and that indeed the pool was part of the village infrastructure. However, there is a vast difference between critical infrastructure and nice to have infrastructure. So I like many others have a big problem trying understand why we should spend 1.2 million on a pool right now when we do not really have a good handle on our critical infrastructure such as air-conditioning for the Coronado center, culvert repair, and at least 3 million starting us in the face to correct the very significant problems at Balboa golf course which was supposed to have been addressed in 2004.
HSV Pool Presentation by Chairman of the BOD
In Mr. Weiss’s portion of the presentation at least, as I understand it, the pool was approved going in 2018 budget and again in 2019. What he failed to mention was that the budget process for 2018 did not allow comments or questions of the Department directors at the various meetings from members of the community. He also met did not mention that at least one board member after the fact as raising serious questions about the entire 2019 budget process.
Not everything taken into consideration
Mr. Weiss correctly stated that the pool issue has been in process for a number of years. It is correct that previous boards did not take action to solve the problem, but he failed to consider that we were in the middle of a recession and the priorities and demands were much much greater than a new pool. He also stated that our balance sheet has greatly improved over the last three years as to homeowners equity. So I assume he thinks it is not that big a problem to commit to a pool with a long-term subsidy issue.
I think if someone evaluated our financial records in detail, the principal reason why our equity has improved, centers around the decision many years ago to issue bonds to improve our water, sewer, and culvert issue by substantial changes in usage fees. This coupled with the fact that we had a substantial increase in assessment dollars is starting to help, but not solve our needs.
How Can We Justify Spending $1.2 Million?
What I found troubling is that I fail to see one decent document that indicates we have conducted a solid 3 to 5 year forecasts of the immediate needs in the village as seen by directors. How can we justify spending $1.2 million when we have no idea what we are really up against? I asked that question in the meeting citing the culvert issue estimated at 9 million dollars and our very significant fresh water delivery system problems in the West End. On my street that is only 7/10 of a mile long, we are probably looking at close to $200,000 to fix the water lines and replace the road which is in a massive state of disrepair.