Selby Aquatic Center lease negotiations making waves for Sarasota Sharks
SARASOTA - The lease is up at the Selby Aquatic Center, but if Sarasota Sharks Inc. has it their way, it will be smooth swimming for the nonprofit organization.
“In the lease that the Y has had with the county it has been specifically for competitive swimming," Sarasota Sharks board member Dr. Karen Hamad.
Hamad expects her organization will continue operating the Selby Aquatic Center although the new agreement lists the asset as belonging to the county.
“The hope for the organization is to do exactly what we’re doing; to continue to provide premiere top of the line competitive swimming," says Dr. Hamad.
However, Southwest Florida Water Polo Foundation board member Jeff Bailey says the Sharks are making it difficult for other aquatic sports to rent pool space.
“We were told no for a number of months until the county stepped in and said you need to talk to them, and then we got this pricing structure that was discriminatory and unprecedented. To the tune of $15 per lane per hour plus lifeguarding fees and daily storage fees," says Bailey.
Dr. Hamad refutes Bailey’s claim.
“So when this pool liner was put in this summer, our swimmers were out of the pool for five weeks. So we had to rent lane space in other pools. And we paid at other pools, like the JCC, exactly what we offer as lane rental fees," says Dr. Hamad.
Amidst the drama before the deal, both Bailey and Dr. Hamad seem to echo the same sentiments of community and sportsmanship.
“We are not interested in displacing the Sharks at all, that’s not what we’re about. We actually want to add aquatic programming to this pool and we want to help grow awareness to aquatic sports in Sarasota County," says Bailey.
“We would love to continue to be stewards of this facility for Sarasota County as we have been for the past 20 years," says Dr. Hamad.
Sarasota County commissioners will decide on a 10-year contract Tuesday.