City-to-City Pool Operation Cooperation Succeeds

When budgets are tight, collaboration reaps rewards.

Consolidation, efficiencies, cooperative agreements - government must consider all these options in this new altered economy. Novato and San Rafael seized an opportunity this spring with a partnership that ultimately benefitted both cities.

In May, Novato completed the nearly $4 million renovation of the Hamilton Pool and community anticipation was high for the long-awaited opening. The economy, however, presented an unanticipated challenge as budget reductions precluded the development of an aquatics staff and program.

Meanwhile here in San Rafael, we were preparing Terra Linda Community Pool for its annual aquatics season. Faced with the same budget issues, our community services staff was primed for seeking alternatives to leveraging our expertise and stretching our dollars. It made sense to help each other, so an agreement for a three month trial season was approved by both city councils and Novato/San Rafael staff combined resources to open the Hamilton Pool on Memorial Day weekend. It was a great success! More than 20,000 visitors enjoyed the Hamilton Pool despite a cooler than normal summer and more than 500 children received swim lessons. Lap swim and water exercise programs were well received, season pass sales surpassed estimates and picnic reservations and birthday packages were popular.

Novato is happy with the strong patronage and San Rafael is pleased we provided oversight and administration to launch this inaugural Hamilton pool season, and had swim fee revenues cover our costs. This opportunity provided another template for more successful governmental collaborations in the future!


Ken Nordhoff is the San Rafael City Manager. To read more about what is happening in the city see "Snapshot," a publication of the city of San Rafael.


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