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  • Writer's pictureKelly Carmichael Booz

On Supporting the Pool at Minnie Howard

On June 9, 2021 I emailed the the Mayor and members of City Council asking them to support a pool at Minnie Howard, which they approved. As a swimmer and former swim coach of all levels from summer swim teams through the collegiate level, I want to see pool capacity grow for the full community, which includes revisiting Chinquapin's pool redesign.

Dear Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council.

Please vote tonight to support the pool at Minnie Howard.

Here is some background on pools in Alexandria, which adds to the chorus of deferrals in our city. Before you suggest another study, or public private partnership, I want to remind you that the Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics (AAA) had this partnership in place with the City in 2016, only for the City to back out of the approved CIP funding for the renovation of Chinquapin.

  • In 1985, the City built the wrong size pool at Chinquapin and no school in Alexandria has been able to host an official meet in over 30 years.

  • In 2008, $25 million was set aside for Chinquapin, but was later removed because of the cost overrun on the TC Williams High School.

  • In May 2016, the City Council voted to allocate $4.5 million to begin the design work on the renovated pool at Chinquapin in 2017.

  • In November 2016, the City Manager put the design work on hold that was approved as part of the FY17 budget. See email below.

  • In February 2017, the City Manager removed the Chinquapin pool from the CIP project completely and Council approved the recommendation.

I joined AAA in 2016 right as the City added the funding to begin the design work for Chinquapin. As a former college swimmer, and swim coach coaching summer leagues, high school, USA swimming, and college level, I would like nothing more than to have an updated, 50-meter regulation sized pool at Chinquapin. We should work towards renovating Chinquapin as was previously discussed. However, the recommendation from the City Manager to consider alternative locations, or renovate Chinquapin, explore a Public, Private Partnership, and do a feasibility study seems disingenuous since this was done in 2016. In particular, "One option worth exploring is undertaking a Public-Private Partnership (P3) to build and operate a new standalone aquatic facility, or to renovate and operate the Chinquapin aquatic facility and recreation center." This is another example of once again deferring projects and it also ignores so much work, advocacy and partnerships with the City that leaders on AAA (before I began on the board) did to move this project forward.

We have an opportunity right now to add pool capacity in our City for our students and community. This is a great example of a good use of co-location at our Schools. Building a pool at Minnie Howard now, not only provides additional aquatic capacity in our City, it will also ensure we have pool availability when and if the City moves forward on renovating Chinquapin.

Please vote to move the pool forward at Minnie Howard and then let's return to the longer conversation of renovating Chinquapin and identifying the funds to do so. I’m all in.


Kelly Carmichael Booz

Member, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Nov 16, 2016, 5:32 AM -0500

As we begin to wrestle with the major CIP funding issues and significant City and School capital financial gap that the City is facing for the FY18 to FY27 CIP, staff will be reassessing existing capital projects to determine if there are projects that should be put on hold or projects paused. This would be a “hold” or “pause” until the proposed operating budget and CIP comes out in February. The CIP which comes out in February would then set a proposed schedule for these projects and either reaffirm or change the prior project schedule.

The first two projects where we are taking action are:

1. Chinquapin 50 meter pool. This $22.9 million project is now at the stage where signing a $1.4 million design contract is imminent. I have decided to put the start of the design contract on hold at least until such time as the CIP is issued in February. I realize that this will disappoint many swimming advocates, but this project represents an expansion of City facilities and programs at a time when we will be struggling to address our backlog of City facility capital maintenance needs. I have just called Bill Rivers to inform him and he was understanding of my rationale, but will continue to advocate for this project.

2. New gateway signs. I have asked staff to put a hold on two new $25,000@ stone gateway signs that are in design (proposed for Quaker and for Telegraph). While the long term wayfinding program envisioned new gateway signs, this does not seem to be the time to spend $25,000 in each location which will set a precedent that all our other gateway signs also be changed to this new more expensive design.

As other projects are identified where a hold should be placed, I will keep you informed. We will be talking about the City facilities master plan process on 11/29 and can discuss these issues further if Council wishes.

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