Council approves pool agreement, discusses affordable housing

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The Winters City Council on June 15 unanimously approved a pool rental agreement with the Solano Aquatic Sea Otters for the purpose of managing the Winters Swim Team and providing swim lessons this summer. 

The council also approved a resolution allowing city manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa to execute an exclusive negotiation agreement contract with NeighborWorks Sacramento for six months. The purpose of the contract is so the city can resume discussions about constructing a 24 unit affordable housing project upon a two acre parcel reserved for that purpose as part of the Winters Highlands Subdivision project. 

Additionally, the council approved the appointment of four new members — Judith Arce, Lisa Baker, Nancy Northrup and Jessica Smith — to the city’s planning commission. 

Mayor Wade Cowan said interviews for the positions were held early in June and the city received 11 applications. Overall, he said, the applicants were outstanding, and it’s unusual for Winters to receive more applications than available seats. Council member Jesse Loren thanked everyone who interviewed and welcomed the new members. 

Pool agreement

Trepa said, historically,  Winters has operated the city’s swim team as a municipal recreation swim at the request of its founder, Bobbie Greenwood. The team was run with the help of a volunteer coordinator, she said, who helped secure coaches, drive the registration process and operate the swim team. 

Trepa added that the previous volunteer coordinator decided she wasn’t in a position to be able to coordinate the swim team this year, which is why city staff was recommending the pool rental agreement with the Solano Aquatic Sea Otters, a non-profit organization that organizes other swim teams in local areas. 

Under the approved agreement, SASO will conduct swim lessons, provide registration services and staffing needed to operate the swim team. All registration fees will be kept by SASO, operating expenses will be paid by the organization, and liability would also be transferred, according to the agenda documents. 

The swim team in the past contributed $8,000 per season to offset the cost of using the city’s facilities, help cover the cost of maintenance and help fund lifeguards, Trepa said. SASO will pay $4,000 under the agreement this year because of late initiation of the swim programs. According to the agenda, SASO expected 150 children to sign up for the swim team.

The registration fee for the swim team was also increased by $10, to $85. Swim lesson registration began at 9 a.m. on June 22, and the swim team began practicing on June 21. 

Council member Bill Biasi asked Trepa if the city would receive any excess funds if registration fees surpass expectations. Trepa said SASO leadership made a commitment to work out the funding situation at the end of the swim season, but that it’s difficult to predict the necessary funding because the city doesn’t have good financial information for the swim team. 

Winters resident Kate Laddish said she was delighted to see that aquatics offerings this year will be able to include swim team and swim lessons as well as recreational swim and lap swim, which started on June 1. She also praised SASO for looking to hire locally, which the organization intends to do according to the agenda documents. 

Affordable housing

The city previously entered an exclusive negotiation agreement with NeighborWorks Sacramento in January 2020, which was extended in August and had expired.  But, according to the agenda, the city’s Affordable Housing Steering Committee has received presentations from the organization on two occasions and staff has talked with them on multiple occasions about the possibility of a “self-help” housing project which would be targeted at moderate income level households in the Winters area.

According to the NeighborWorks Sacramento website, the organization works in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture to provide loans and make affordable housing a reality to low-income people in rural communities. Essentially, the “self-help” aspect means an applicant contributes labor to the construction of the home which serves as their down payment, according to the website. 

Daniel Maguire, a housing programs manager for the city, said the city and NeighborWorks both feel the project can be viable which is why staff was asking for a six month negotiation agreement. Over the next six months, he said, the expectation is that the project will be turned into a financially sound project and a disposition and development agreement will be brought back to the city council for potential approval.

Loren said many people in town really want to see affordable development happen, and there’s a long list of people with need for affordable housing. Cowan said he thinks the self-help aspect of these projects are awesome.

“Nobody’s going to have more pride in ownership than the people who actually get to help build their house,” Cowan said. “This is one of the best ways we can help people that can’t afford the market rate houses and there’s nothing better than sweat equity in pride in ownership.”

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