Windsor could finally be getting a long-desired municipal swimming facility, courtesy of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, in exchange for the town extending water and sewer service to a planned tribal housing project.
Because the town’s utilities would be stretched beyond the urban growth boundary, Windsor voters would need to approve the tentative deal, which calls for the tribe to build an aquatic facility at Keiser Park and also stipulates that it would not pursue a casino in Windsor.
“This (the pool) is something the community has desired for many years even prior to incorporation (in 1992),” Town Manager Linda Kelly said Monday. “It would be a welcome addition to our recreational program and certainly to the high school as well.”
The 30-meter-long pool could be used by the Windsor High swim team, whose members now have to travel to surrounding communities to practice and compete.
In addition, the tribe would build a second recreational pool, restrooms and changing facility along with a community building and parking.
The basic outline of the deal comes after several years of talks between the tribe and Windsor officials, who originally were on record as opposing the tribe’s plan to build up to 147 housing units for its members on 124 acres off Windsor River Road.
Ever since the tribe began accumulating land along Windsor’s western border more than a decade ago, there has been lingering suspicion that it intended to build another casino in Windsor, beyond the San Pablo Casino it operates in the East Bay. The tribe has always denied any intent to pursue gambling in Windsor and now is willing to put that into a legally binding agreement.
“Once they (Windsor voters) are comfortable with the fact there won’t be a casino there, I think that alleviates a large part of the fear,” Larry Stidham, the tribe’s attorney and spokesman, said Monday.
The costs and design of the aquatic center are still being determined, but Stidham estimated it will cost between $7 million and $10 million.
The town six years ago completed a master plan for an aquatic facility with an Olympic-size pool at Keiser Park. But the prospect of trying to fund the ongoing operation and maintenance of the pool proved daunting and the Town Council shelved the plan.
Town Manager Kelly said Monday the tribe would kick in an additional $2.5 million for a “mitigation fund” to offset the impacts of the construction and possibly to help cover some of the costs of ongoing pool operations.
The details will be part of a “pledge agreement” the Town Council would approve before it goes to voters.
The tribe intends to begin circulating petitions soon to gather voter signatures to place the initiative on the ballot for a June 2 special election. To get on the ballot, the signatures of 15 percent of Windsor’s 13,284 registered voters need to be gathered, or 1,993 names.
On Wednesday, Town Council members acting as directors of the Water District are scheduled to take the initial formal steps to allow the deal to go forward by voting on an ordinance that clarifies the procedure for the tribe to access Windsor’s sewer and water services.
“What we are doing is making sure the town and Water District are in lockstep on this,” Kelly said.