By Teri Carnicelli and Priscilla Walsh
The Phoenix City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 20 to allow Brophy College Preparatory to remove the use permit on its Dottie Boreyko/Brophy Sports Complex at 29th Street and Campbell Avenue, paving the way for the property’s sale and ultimate conversion to single-family homes.
Council members voiced their sympathy to neighbors and groups like Preserving Community Aquatics who didn’t want to see this community asset turned into yet another housing development. However, they pointed out that in cases like this, the law favors property owner rights over community activists.
The pool was built in 1988 by well-known Valley real estate developer Charles Keating. The special use permit was approved by the Phoenix City Council in January 1990 to allow for a private athletic club with non-member usage (i.e. visiting swim teams) but no open public swimming. Brophy bought the property for $1.5 million in 2002 primarily so its swim teams could use the pools during the competitive season.
Ryland Homes, which will now likely purchase the 10-plus acre property from Brophy for approximately $6.2 million, needed the use permit removed in order to move forward with its housing plans. Ryland has agreed to allow groups like the Phoenix Swim Club and the swimming program at Grand Canyon University to finish out their seasons, leaving the club intact until March 2014.
The Dottie Boreyko/Brophy Sports Complex has been the long-standing home of the Phoenix Swim Club, which now is in search of other appropriate facilities around the Valley.
“We’ve been quite a successful club and have had a fantastic opportunity to swim at this facility as a result of a long-standing relationship with Brophy College Preparatory,” said Steve Schramm, vice president of the Phoenix Swim Club Board of Directors.
“The challenge is finding a location that can support a swim club the size of the Phoenix Swim Club; we have about 400 families that swim here and in addition we have a number of partners who swim with us,” Schramm explained.
In addition, the club frequently hosts teams from around the United States as well as international teams who come for the training environment.
“And so, what we’re trying to do is find a partner that can handle the amount of swim time that we utilize, and someone who’s very philosophically aligned with what our mission is to develop young athletes in their life,” Schramm said.
“We’ve taken great pains to communicate to the membership that the swim club is going to continue, regardless of what happens with the facility,” he added. In fact, the club recently entered into an agreement with the Moon Valley Country Club to use its pool for some of the club’s programs. But it won’t be enough to service all the classes and programs the club provides.
“I think while families have been concerned—and we understand that—they believe in the direction we’re going and we will survive,” Schramm said.
In the meantime, residential neighbors of the property feel the city made an error in judgment and are frustrated with the outcome.
Tricia Schafer is director of Preserving Community Aquatics, a nonprofit group formed to support all public aquatic activity and accessible swimming in the Valley. Schafer also is lives adjacent to the Dottie Boreyko/Brophy Sports Complex and said she bought a home in the neighborhood because of the pool.
“And I know there are a lot of other businesses and swimmers who deliberately bought homes in this area, or gravitate to this area because of the pool,” she pointed out. “These are people who pump gas at our gas stations, buy groceries at our stores, shop in our area … they drive money into this economy, because of the pool.
“Some of us will move to communities with adequate aquatic facilities; some of us will stay and hope that the promises of building alternative pools accessible to the public will be kept,” Schafer said. “As individuals, we have the luxury of making choices. But the city of Phoenix has lost something it can’t recover—a gorgeous parcel of land, a life-saving resource, and a piece of history.”