Dublin will be looking into making operation of its water park at Emerald Glen Park more cost-effective, now that city staff has a full fiscal year of operations to review.
At its Dec. 11 meeting, the City Council gave City Manager Chris Foss direction to examine how the city could reduce the annual general fund subsidy to operate the water park from approximately $900,000 to $300,000.
The outdoor part of the park offers the public six water slides and a shallow wading pool area that operate for 15 weeks, opening around Memorial Day and closing in September. The outdoor facilities have been turning a profit, because hot weather drives people to cool off in the water. However, city staff might suggest closing the facilities on a slow day, perhaps a Monday, if summer weather turns cool, and cuts into patronage. It would save the city some part-time employee hours.
Emerald Glen Park also provides a natatorium, with an indoor 25-yard swimming pool, and areas for water exercising and swim lessons. The natatorium is kept open 350 days per year, 14 hours per day, many more days and hours of operation than any similar facility during the non-summer hours.
Mayor David Haubert and the councilmembers said they favor reducing water park expenses, since the city’s General Fund subsidized the water park with $948,000 during Fiscal Year 2017-18, the first year of the park’s fiscal financial operation.
The city knew it had to subsidize such a complete water recreational project; a deficit a little over $1 million was projected.
The biggest water park expenses involved staff, at $2.1 million, and utilities and operating supplies, at $1.1 million.
Foss said that the city will always subsidize the water park. However, staff might be able eventually to reduce the negative cash flow to $300,000 by eliminating some part-time staff positions, and reducing hours or days of operation at various times.
Adding solar panels to cut energy costs would also deliver long-term savings. The city spent $180,000 on electricity in FY 2017-18, and solar energy could reduce the figure to net zero, said Foss. He will return at a future date to report options to the council.
Gupta, Thalblum Receive Praise
Themeeting served as a farewell to Councilmembers Abe Gupta and Janine Thalblum.
Vice-mayor Melissa Hernandez thanked Gupta for his service, and said “I wish you had run again, because I feel you add a lot to our council.” Hernandez also thanked Thalblum for stepping up to an appointment to fill the short-term vacancy left after the death of Vice-mayor Don Biddle.
Haubert praised Thalblum for representing the city on the LAVTA board.
Councilmember Arun Goel was absent from the council meeting.