Harbor Bay Club: Needs of Members Come First

I’m a long time Bay Farm resident and I’ve also worked in the health club environment for nearly 30 years and as a chiropractor specializing in sports related injuries, working with personal trainers and club operators. As a longtime member of the Harbor Bay Club I’ve been frustrated that the needs of the club and its members have been diminished in all of the noise made about the building of 80 new homes.

I’ve even heard some people say that a new club isn’t even needed, and that it’s really just the developer’s desire to build more homes that’s driving the plans for a new club. That makes no sense to me. Of course there needs to be a way to pay for the kind of new club they’re planning, but anyone who thinks that the club hasn’t needed a major makeover for many years, and one that requires it to move, is not aware of the facts, or has an alternative place to work out for the years it will take to knock down the existing club and then build a new one.

That would cause them to lose all of its members, not to mention the hardship to parents who rely on Harbor Bay Club’s after-school programs for child care. So a new location only makes sense if they want to keep their business and membership.

For as long as I’ve been a member, well over 10 years, I’ve known that the club has been trying to figure out how and where to build a new club. I’m aware of at least three plans they’ve tried at various locations within Harbor Bay and Bay Farm but I’ve been told that there’s actually been six sites that have been studied going back 15 years. So clearly the need to move the club is not a new idea.

Perhaps I have a unique perspective to the business and operations of health clubs but I would argue that the changes needed for the Harbor Bay Club are self-evident. The club is almost 40 years old. The tennis courts are half empty most of the time, there’s way too much demand for aquatics for a single aging pool to support, more space is needed for fitness, more studios for classes, and more space for youth programs.

The services of the day spa are nice but they’re spread out all over the place like a patch work quilt so my wife can’t even get from the locker room to her spa services without walking through the crowded noisy areas of the club in her robe. It’s pretty evident that the club started life as just a tennis club, with nothing else, has tried to adapt to the changes in what members want with Band-Aid fixes, but is now out of options. They need fewer tennis courts, a lot more space for fitness, and more pools.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that you can’t make those kinds of changes — basically a complete rebuild — and stay operational. So it stands to reason that a new club needs to be rebuilt somewhere else in order to avoid massive disruption to members for many years.

My family and I are thrilled with the amenities planned for the new club. As a longtime soccer coach, my girls and I are excited about the planned all-purpose play area, and my wife and I are excited about having all new equipment and more space to use it. This club will be a huge addition to the many wonderful things Alameda has to offer its residents.

I’ve heard the new club will cost upwards of $20 million. I’m sure the 80 homes or hotel/conference center planned for redeveloping the current club property is needed to help pay for it.

That makes perfect sense to me and I’m glad they have a plan to build something really special that allows for no disruption in service. That’s a sound business plan that puts the needs of members first.

I ask that you do not get so hung up on the 80 homes that you forget the benefits of a new club and bigger and better amenities, something most members are looking forward to and something that will benefit the entire community.

Steve Adams lives in Alameda.