Tribe introduces plan to build Windsor swimming pool
Plans for a long-sought municipal aquatic center in Windsor were introduced this week by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, who are willing to pay to build it in exchange for obtaining water and sewer service to the tribe’s planned housing project.
The aquatics complex at Keiser Park would include a 30-meter-long competition pool with 10 lanes that also could accommodate water polo, and a large recreational pool with a water slide and two lap lanes. In addition to solar heating, there would be a snack bar, bathrooms, picnic tables and barbecues, a community room available to rent for parties and a 50-space parking lot.
The presentation by tribal representatives was greeted with enthusiasm at a Windsor Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday night.
“It’s very exciting,” Chairman John Cain said.
“Thank God this is happening, or could be happening,” said Catherine Davis, Windsor High swim coach, whose team has no home pool and has been forced to travel to Healdsburg for practice.
She said the pool would be used not only for swimming competitions, but also as a safe place for children to hang out.
But building the aquatic center — estimated to cost $9 million to $11 million — is contingent on voters’ approving extension of utilities to the proposed 147-unit tribal housing development in the works off Windsor River Road, just west of town boundaries.
Voter approval is necessary because most of the tribe’s 124 acres are outside the town’s ultimate urban boundaries.
Lytton attorney Larry Stidham said Thursday that the voter initiative could be on the ballot as early as June or November.
The Lytton Pomos still need authorization from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to have their land taken into federal trust and allow the homes for their tribal members to be built.
The tribe says it will build the pool within two years of the land being taken into trust, although how long it will take to get BIA approval is uncertain.
The tribe is willing to stipulate that it will not build a casino on the property, something that residents have been leery of in the past.
Profits from the tribe’s San Pablo Casino in the East Bay have enabled the Lyttons to steadily accumulate property in Windsor over the past decade. Tribal representatives say there is no intent to build a second casino in Windsor.
Stidham told commissioners that the federal government recognized the tribe’s lands were illegally taken away in 1961 when their rancheria north of Healdsburg was terminated.
“They have not lived as a community ever,” Stidham said, adding that the Windsor site will provide residential housing for the 200 or so tribal members as well as for nontribal spouses.
Richard Coombs, a Windsor developer who has been acting as an intermediary between the tribe and Windsor town officials, told the commission that the tribe could build its own water and sewer plants if it doesn’t get town utilities. But the Pomos don’t want to do that, he said, and it doesn’t make sense to have the plants next to a large housing development.
Coombs said he helped convince the tribe to “take the money and apply it to something that would be more fun than water and sewer, which is the pool facility.”
A pool is something the town has sought for at least two decades. But after devising a master plan for an aquatic facility in 2007, the Town Council shelved the project, largely due to concerns over the deficit projected in its operation.
Parks and Recreation Director Donna Legge told the commission this week that the gap between revenues and potential expenses of an aquatic center previously was estimated at $217,000 annually.
The tribe has offered an additional $2.5 million to Windsor to offset the impacts of its housing project, which could be applied toward ongoing pool maintenance.
Mayor Bruce Okrepkie said Thursday that “those are questions we have to look at,” but he believes the pool will become a reality.
“The duty for us is to make sure when the pool is built, it’s quality, functional and fits the needs of our community,” he said. “We have that obligation.”
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @clarkmas.