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November 5, Aquatic Agenda Item

From: domainremoved <Tim>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2019 14:48:08 -0800

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Message to Menlo Park City Council
Tuesday November 5, 2019

My name is Tim Sheeper and I am the founder and CEO of Team Sheeper Inc. dba Menlo Swim and Sport, and I have been Menlo Park’s pool operator since 2006.

It has just come to my attention that an aquatics item has made it on tonight’s agenda. As a long time steward of our community pools I would like to take this opportunity to comment.

I would like to applaud Mayor Pro Tem Taylor for championing initiatives that bring awareness and potentially increased vitality to the Belle Haven pool. I also appreciate Max Fennell’s desire to offer a program targeting youth in hopes of igniting a life-long joy of swimming and a healthy lifestyle.

This is an exciting time to begin a discussion that could lead to collaboration, that could eventually lead to a campaign, and hopefully to a movement of higher participation at Belle Haven.

Menlo Swim and Sport started operating Belle Haven as a year round pool in 2011, for the first time in pool history. We quickly identified major hurdles in operating and have worked to overcome these obstacles. The theme for the success is collaboration, by creatively partnering with local business, with the City of Menlo Park and for initiating a foundation that subsidizes families for swim lessons. This long term, sustainable, four-pillared partnership (City of Menlo Park, Facebook, Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation-BBAF, Menlo Swim and Sport) have been the reason that the pool has been successful and we have been able to open year round for the past 9 years.

Success at Belle Haven is tangible in numbers:
30,000 swim lessons have been given
18,400 of those swim lessons have been scholarship swim lessons courtesy of BBAF
71% of all lessons are scholarship swim lessons
$5 is the fee a family pays for a 30 minute swim lesson

Beyond Barriers has always been operated by a passionate, committed and dedicated group of Menlo Masters swimmers that have provided lessons, through its vendors, for over 7000 children in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Redwood City.

We are proud of how far Belle Haven has progressed as a community center since 2011, but we are not completely satisfied. There is still significant differences in annual aquatic usage numbers between Belle Haven and Burgess. We support over 430,000 pool visits each year at Burgess while we welcome 28,000 users to Belle Haven annually. There are many factors that lend to these differences for example, geography, demographics, facility availability, facility programming, facility ammenities and facility legacy.

Thankfully, Mayor Pro Tem Taylor has shined a light on Belle Haven pool. Although, the offering of a short term program that potentially duplicates or is similar in form to what is already in place may lead to discouragement or dissatisfaction for the involved parties. It is part of Menlo Swim and Sports mission, values and vision to listen to community ideas and feedback. Then, digest and possibly build upon them, while interjecting our intellectual property to better ensure program success. From our business point of view, in order to make significant, meaningful and sustainable improvement at Belle Haven pool a lot of work and effort lies in front of us. The causes of low community involvement need to be identified and then addressed.

I would like to propose a list of a “challenge-attack plan” that could start us down the path to a potentially long term and sustainable future for the Belle Haven community pool.

Collaborate-Bring organizing parties together to work towards the goal of improvement, increased involvement and increased facility programming and usage.
Initiate-A city-wide campaign alerting residents of the sites existence and virtues.
Diversify-Target an adult learn-to-swim program with the goal of breaking an age old cycle of non-swimming parents raising non-swimming children
Combine-Schedule various programs to coincide at the facility simultaneously so many different levels and user groups can be involved. Build community.
Opportunity- Attract Belle Haven residents to become part of the programming staff at the facility.
Motivate-Install a water feature at the facility that will incentivize local youth to learn how to swim for the purpose of using the feature.

This issue of Belle Haven usage has surfaced in a unique process, and that is now in the past. It is now time for collaboration, transparency and moving towards utilizing existing resources to benefit the entire community of Menlo Park.

Tim Sheeper
CEO-Menlo Swim and Sport
Received on Tue Nov 05 2019 - 14:39:48 PST

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