Mission Viejo

                                          Updating the Nadadores Aquatic Complex

                                                                                            By Larry Gilbert

Since my March article on the Mission Viejo Marguerite swim complex renovation was published in the Community Common Sense, I have attended both City Council and Community Services Commission meetings to gather additional information on the proposed upgrade of a facility that is almost exclusively used by the Nadadores swim and dive teams. To be clear regarding my position on this project, I wish to go on record; this Marguerite swim complex is a city asset that should have been maintained over time and not neglected by our city staff and prior city council majorities.

In his narrative about our city's recreation facilities, Councilman Frank Ury made the following point which I will paraphrase: Our city is made up of "three percenters"; three percent of MV residents have different wishes than others that warrant our attention. 

If that is true, that means that only 25 youth divers and two adult (Masters) divers out of our 100,000 residents (0.025%) use the 10 meter dive tower. This Nadadore input surely fails to reach a credible level for consideration, especially when the Nadadores Board of Directors wants the city to spend around one million dollars to replace our current 10 meter dive tower. In their request to the city, this dive pool and tower was their top priority.
In conjunction with the dive tower, there is another $563,000 of recommended pool improvements for this area. That does not include the Nadadores Fundraising Site Furnishings wish list of $335,000. If we ignore this option we can avoid this "special interest" expenditure while still renovating the 50 meter and activity pools. Not having last year's Contract I would question their (and our) liability insurance coverage limits as the city has deeper pockets than the Nadadores should a diver suffer any serious injuries.

 Note: According to the Needs Assessment Staff Report, the Nadadores are requesting the facility renovations commence in September of 2016.

Even after Assistant City Manager Keith Rattay reported our having only $3.4 million dollars in park development fees, with another $1 million due from another project next year, Community Services Commissioner Judy Bullockus dug in her heels at their March 26th special meeting arguing that she wants us to move ahead with the entire project (Option #3) even when we lack the projected $7.8 million dollars to pay for same. She pointed out that we are Mission Viejo where people expect us to have the best of everything to uphold our image. In trying to win support from her peers she reminded everyone that we entered a float in the 2009 Tournament of Roses parade - during the recession that cost Mission Viejo taxpayers upwards of $400,000 for two minutes of fame. 

In my opinion, Community Service Commissioner Judy Bullockus's admission of her connection to the Nadadores should mandate her recusing herself from the renovation discussion and any future commission voting.

Everyone who lives or works in this area knows that Mission Viejo is not a destination and does not have massive tracts of homes to be sold as the Mission Viejo Company had before we became a city. That private investment to sell the California Promise made sense at that time. As an unofficial historian of Mission Viejo who has resided here since before we became a city, I too know much of our history. However looking in the rear view mirror to make your case is simply not applicable today, especially when Nadadores international accomplishments in the past two decades has not achieved the same level of success nor garnered the media coverage as it has in the past.

We've listened to supporters pointing out that being a Nadadores has transformed their lives, providing discipline that makes them better people both physically and mentally. You can make the same argument for all of the youth sports activities in our city. I have watched members of our Mission Viejo Diablos football teams get scholarships to USC, UCLA and Stanford to name but a few major universities. Mission Viejo's organized sports support offers the same experiences to all participants.

During the Community Services meeting break I reminded staff and commissioners that they have an ongoing project to select one or two park restrooms that they have been prioritizing. You can't spend the same money twice.

Larry Gilbert, a retired electronics industry executive, has lived in Mission Viejo since 1977. He is an elected board member of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. Larry is also a former Board Member of South Coast Christian Assembly church and leader of their Senior Ministry.


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