I am not quite sure what the Discovery Bay Community Services District (CSD) is thinking by likely keeping the doors open of the Discovery Bay Athletic Club for an additional 120-days at a cost of $32,000 of taxpayer money.
While I understand there is a grand vision of the community center with added programs and other goodies with the athletic club included, and while that’s great in theory, it’s not the CSD job to get into the athletic club business for four months as an experiment. Shockingly, the CSD is apparently willing to spend the money to find out the viability.
According to the Brentwood Press, this is what they claim this will cost Discovery Bay.
The cost of keeping the lights on in the current site and maintaining the facility for the more than 250 residents already using the center will run around $18,000 per month. Howard estimates that a minimum of $10,000 per month will be generated from the current users; the additional $8,000 a month coming out of the town’s Zone 8 funds, which are designated recreation and landscape dollars.
Zone 8 funds are used for landscaping and recreation. It appears a health club enters the gray area of how these funds could be used—if anything, this should be labeled as a misuse of public funds.
While General Manager Rick Howard may want to claim “we want to show that we’re improving, not taking away something,” he needs to also realize you are subsidizing a health club before other town services—in any other city or town, I don’t think funding a health club is anywhere near the top of any list.
I say nonsense; after the $32k is spent you may have nothing to show for it except 250 got to be subsidized by everyone who pays into the landscape district. You also have a scenario where you have a pay to play scheme.
The current 250-members pay a fee for access to the facility which is not enough to cover overall expenses, so they get an additional $8k per month to keep the doors open through taxpayers. Now there is a situation where taxpayers can’t use the facility they are already paying for unless they become members of the community center.
According to CSD Director Kevin Graves, he explained it a little bit better than Ruth Roberts article.
He explained that they will be keeping open the facility for a period of 120-days to see if they can make it successful or not. Right now, they don’t know if the building is or not.
“There were 1,500 members of the club at one point, now it’s down to 250 people, no way to evaluate it for ourselves unless we maintain it for a period of time. Only after some time managing it ourselves will we know if it’s a viable option for the property,” stated Graves.
He shared how there had been no real management in over a year so they cannot assess the value at this time.
“How else do we know if it will be successful enough or not?” asked Graves. “Our goal is to see if we can build up clientele and make it viable.”
While I understand the logic and I can appreciate them wanting to do their due diligence, this is still a very bad idea as the town government should not be getting into the athletic club business—especially when it’s losing an estimated $8k per month, that is what private business and investors are for.
My response to Mr. Graves is rather simple, there is a reason why the club has gone from 1,500 members to 250—there are better options for athletic clubs in the market place who are willing to want to spend the money to recruit new members. I doubt the Town will be as efficient or willing to put out a full fledged marketing plan as say, Diamond Hills.
This athletic club idea is irresponsible and the CSD should know better than to keep the doors open.
If the CSD really has its heart set on keeping it open, then go to the 250 members who want this club open and divide up the $8k. As new members are added, the fee can be reduced accordingly, but don’t take the $8k from taxpayers who may also be non-members. Someone who will not use the club should not have to help keep the doors open.
Next, take a survey of the 250 members and see if they would pay an additional $32 per month (x250 people) to get to $8k to leave the doors open—overall that is $128 over 4-months. I doubt a majority of them would approve.
Ultimately, this is a giant boondoggle of a project where the town will be subsidizing a luxury, not a necessity. I get it, people want this open, but there is a want and then there is reality.
Reality is that after 120-days, this will be evaluated after $32,000 has been spent which is a low estimate. One line not to be forgotten is the following:
Howard said he has already met with employees and invited those interested in remaining on board to reapply.
This is code word for staff time being used. Staff will be used to rehire, hire, or fire employees. Then you have the question of human resources to the town having an added burden for a four-month period. Liability insurance is another issue. I could go on.
Then you get into major legal problems with funding. Again, how this is not malfeasance, I have no idea! Look, I understand people want it open; I get how great this is, but there are wants and then there is reality.
I suggest the CSD go back to the suggestion box after nixing this idea. Anytime you make a financial decision like this, it should benefit the entire 16,000 plus community, not just 250 people!
No matter which direction you go at it, the thing doesn’t add up. Just say no!
Note: An email to Rick Howard was not replied to at the time I published this post.