Inflation Forces Piedmont Community Pool Redesign and Creates Funding Shortfall

“[The pool] was a place to just go no matter who you were in the community.” Josie Oesterer, junior

Mark Hsia, Assistant Editor

This spring, inflation and changed economic conditions forced ELS Architecture and Urban Design to make drastic revisions to the original community pool conceptual designs approved on Jan. 18, 2022. 

After major leakage was discovered, the Piedmont Community Pool closed and was drained on Sept. 17, 2021. The pool had previously been a center for community life and an important  amenity for many people, including junior and Piedmont Swim Team captain Josie Oesterer.

“[The pool] was a place to just go no matter who you were in the community,”Oesterer said, who had been a regular visitor since the age of four. 

Now, with the pool drained and ongoing construction, the community, including the Piedmont Swim Team, are no longer able to enjoy the pool. Instead, the team must commute out to other pools, such as those at Mills College, Montclair, and Emeryville.

“Driving every morning out to other pools can be very inconvenient for many families,” Oesterer said.

Due to the rapid inflation in construction costs, ELS Architecture and Urban Design had to modify their original blueprints to stay within the confines of the bond funding approved by Measure UU in Nov. 2021. Despite these modifications, the community pool is still projected to be completed in the summer of 2024.

“There’s a lot of time and a lot of effort that has to happen between now and then, but that’s what we’re aiming for,” said John O. Tulloch, Piedmont assistant city administrator and city clerk.

According to revised ELS blueprints, modifications to the original design include the elimination and addition of a few features. The zero-entry area of the pool will be reduced in size, and an all-electric pool heating system will be added. The three recreational lap swimming lanes will remain 25 yards, and the new competition pool will remain 25 yards by 29.53 yards, with a depth range of 6.5 to 12 ft, consistent with the Jan. 18 plans and significantly larger than the old main pool.

“With the new size of the pool, we can definitely have space for many more activities, [such as] water polo, swim team, and more [swimming] lessons,” Oesterer said.

The second story of the planned poolside building was largely removed in this latest revision. An open viewing area, a storage room, and two multi-stall restrooms will be the only features remaining on the second floor. Per these changes, these features will only be accessible from Bonita Ave and the tennis courts due to the removal of an internal elevator and stairway. Solar panels will be added to cover the open viewing pavilion. The size of the gender neutral changing rooms will also be reduced. 

A cost estimate from March 2021 set the funding gap between predicted costs and available bond funding at $6 million. However, the April 2022 revisions reduced this gap down to just over $2 million above the approved bond funding of $19 million.

Photo courtesy of ELS Architectures and Urban Design

The Piedmont City Council announced a partnership with Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) on Aug. 15, 2022 to compensate for the shortage of funding.

PRFO is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve Piedmont’s recreational facilities. The city and PRFO have worked together on successful projects in the past, including the Corey Reich Tennis Center and Hampton Field. 

“PRFO is proud to build upon the success of our two previous partnerships with the City,” PRFO President Steve Collins said.

During those two previous partnerships, PRFO successfully raised a combined total of over $1.3 million through donations. However the $2 million dollars necessary for this project is significantly more than anything PRFO has previously done. 

In the case that PRFO does not receive sufficient funding to compensate for the funding deficiency, deductible features will be removed from the plans. These include the poolside multipurpose room and toe ledges in the competition pool. In the case that there is extra money after the bid is completed, additive alternatives may be added. These include but are not limited to a scoreboard and timing system, wood decking, and sports lighting.

“If it is necessary, we can do some value engineering of the project, but we are really cautiously optimistic that we will have a pool up by the summer of 2024,” said Tulloch.

While the community pool project has posed many challenges, city staff and residents alike are excited to use the new pool and the new amenities that it offers.

“Being able to put in something that’s going to serve the community, hopefully for years and years into the future, is really exciting,” said Tulloch.

If you wish to donate to the Piedmont Community Pool Project, visit