OAKLAND -- The city of Oakland will take over operations of the Jack London Aquatic Center a month after the nonprofit group that managed the facility announced without warning it would hand over management because of a lack of funding.
The announcement Wednesday dispelled doubts, at least temporarily, about whether the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department would have the staff and money to keep the facility at 115 Embarcadero running.
And it was good news to rowing clubs like the UC Berkeley Women's Lightweight Crew, which depended on the aquatic center's low fees to store its boats and proximity to the Lake Merritt BART station.
The city built the Jack London Aquatic Center in 2000 to make water sports accessible to all residents. Boy Scout troops, high school students, youth offenders, Laney College students and adults paid a sliding scale for boating programs such as rowing and sailing.
The nonprofit Jack London Aquatic Center began operating the facility in 2002. Then trustees of the nonprofit group announced in February they could no longer afford to maintain the facility and programs because the city had slashed its $170,000 subsidy, and the organization was unable to compensate for the loss with additional fundraising and grants.
Spokeswoman Dana Riley said Wednesday the same type of programs at the facility will continue under the city's management but the specific classes have not been decided yet. Staff hired by the nonprofit organization will have to reapply, she said.
The Jack London Aquatic Center's Community Room, popular for weddings and other special events, will still be available to rent. Plans will likely involve a collaboration with the East Bay Regional Park District, which will open the Tidewater Aquatic Center near High Street on Saturday. The Tidewater facility also offers similar low-cost aquatic classes.