Tonasket Swimming Pool workshop, Jan. 21

CITY OF TONASKET NEWS RELEASE

Swimming Pool Workshop – January 21, 2014, 5:30 pm – Tonasket High School Commons

The newly formed Tonasket Pool Committee in cooperation with the city of Tonasket will host a community meeting at 5:30 pm on January 21, 2014 in the Tonasket High School Commons (please note this is a change in location from what is on posters advertising the workshop). The Committee and City encourage everyone to attend to learn about potential costs and options for replacement of the City’s swimming pool.

Tonasket’s swimming pool was originally constructed in the 1940’s and underwent a significant renovation in 1991 with 50% of the funding from an Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation grant. One of the conditions of accepting the renovation grant was that the City operate and maintain a comparable swimming facility in perpetuity. However, by 2010, the facility was again showing its age and in need of major repairs, replacements and upgrades, some required to maintain compliance with state and federal statutes. With a declining economy and decreasing revenues the City Council had to take a hard look at the relative cost/benefit of continuing to operate a swimming pool that required far more revenue to maintain than it generated. With the requirement to maintain the pool in perpetuity in mind the City began a three pronged effort intended to: study the feasibility and costs for renovating the existing pool and preliminary concepts/costs for a new pool; updating the Park and Recreation Plan to reestablish eligibility for state grant funds; and, encourage formation of a community group to raise funds for an endowment geared towards supporting long term maintenance and operation costs as well as matching funds for renovation or replacement of the existing pool.

The City, using dollars from the real estate excise tax, selected and retained a consultant team in 2010 to evaluate the existing facility, provide a list of deficiencies along with cost estimates to correct them and examine the preliminary feasibility for renovating or replacing the current facility. The consultant team which included the respected pool experts from Swim World completed and presented findings from the first phase of their efforts in the fall of 2010.

The consultant team’s phase one report found a wide array of significant code related issues with the existing pool, bath house and facility access, many of which needed to be addressed if facility use was to continue until a major renovation could be funded and completed or a replacement facility funded and constructed. Estimates for addressing the most immediate issues ranged upward of $200,000 with a comprehensive effort to correct all deficiencies costing nearly $1,000,000. Fortunately, Pool World included in the phase one report, a comprehensive, prioritized list of improvements along with cost estimates along with a manual on how to better utilize the facility as it presently exists. Unfortunately, working on some of the immediate problems required actions (e.g. removing the pool deck), that would expose areas that also needed expensive work, but not as high of priority. In the end it became apparent that the costs to correct code related deficiencies was far beyond what the City could afford so the Council decided that the 2011 swim season would be the last for the pool in its current condition.

One of the main benefits of the consultant’s report was enough detailed information about the existing facility to allow the City to become the first grantee in the history of the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (now the Recreation and Conservation Office – RCO) to have a facility funded with their dollars to be declared obsolete and the condition to either replace the facility or repay the grant was eliminated. This action meant the City has no obligation to the state to maintain and operate a swimming pool. However, the Council was not willing to let that be the end of the story and efforts continued to gauge community interest and desires for a swimming facility.

The City’s effort to update the Park and Recreation Plan moved ahead and included a survey of all city residents and all students in the Tonasket and Oroville School Districts during the late fall of 2010. A total of 4,696 surveys were distributed with 767 returned and tabulated (a return rate of 16.33%). The survey was intended to provide information regarding City parks in general and the swimming pool specifically. The vast majority of surveys (73.01%) came from households or individuals within the 98855 zip code, with 73.94% of those respondents residing outside the city limits. A majority of the responses (59.97%) were from youth in the 11 to 20 age groups. It is important to note that not all respondents answered all questions and some listed ages for all household members. However, the results do provide some insights into the park and recreation needs and desires of area residents.

 

Tonasket Swimming Pool

The Tonasket municipal swimming pool at History Park was closed by the city because of high maintenance and operations costs. G-T File Photo

The survey featured many questions about the swimming pool. Responses indicate that 44.81% think the pool itself, 46.94% find the pool deck, 49.47% the parking, 49.20% access into and out of the pool itself, 51.60% access in and out of facility, 53.46% the fencing, 49.07% the drop off/pick up area and 45.61% the spectator viewing all fair to good, while 54.36% find the bathroom/showers and 53.19% the changing rooms poor or fair. When asked about the need for a new pool facility, 492 responses or 65.43% said it is necessary or extremely necessary while 249 or 33.11% responded that it was only somewhat necessary or not necessary. In terms of desired amenities for a new pool, 72.21% noted slides, 66.49% diving board and 59.84% a play area for toddlers and children. 66.22% favored an indoor/outdoor facility, with 61.04% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement that a new swimming pool would benefit their household.

The updated Tonasket Park and Recreation Plan was adopted by the City Council in October 2011 and the City’s eligibility for RCO grant funds was reestablished and renovation or replacement of the swimming pool was a top priority.

The third prong of the City’s efforts, encouraging formation of a community group dedicated to fundraising for a pool project proceeded with fits and starts. Several meetings were held during 2011 and 2012 and the City received a contribution of $7,900 in memory of Gordon Stangland with the request the dollars be used for the pool, which was very important to Gordon. While there was certainly community interest in the renovation or replacement of the pool there was no specific vision for the facility with ideas ranging from an indoor facility, a facility at the school, acquiring new property for a new pool and a fairly broad array of desired improvements. Without a well organized community organization, the Council struggled with a decision to either forget about the pool and move on or invest a bit more money to provide one more opportunity for the community to come together and develop a common vision and direction for renovation or replacement of the swimming pool. However the Council did make several critical decisions regarding the location and type of pool they would support. If the City moves forward there will be a new outdoor facility located in History Park.

In order to facilitate the process of identifying a vision and direction, the Council decided to proceed with the second phase of the consultants work and retained Pool World to develop several alternatives and options. Pool World submitted their report in October 2013 and included four options: a new 25′ by 75′ lap pool with walk in steps and 8′ diving board with

10′-0″ diving well and remodel existing pool building – $950,000; a new 25′ by 75′ lap pool with walk in steps and 8′ diving board with 10′-0″ diving well and new pool building – $1.5 million; new 25′ by 60′ lap pool with 22′ by 58′ zero depth play area with water features installed, replacement of existing pool building and 8′ diving board with 10′-0″ diving well – $1.67 million; and, new 25′ by 75′ lap pool with walk in steps and ADA access ramp with a 12′-6″ diving well and 1 meter diving board along with a freeform recreation pool that varies in width from 24′ to 40′ by 75′ in length with water features installed and replacement of existing pool building – $2.54 million.

The purpose of the January 21, 2014 workshop is to review the alternatives and options and reach consensus on a vision for a new pool. Kurt Danison, Highlands Associates, the City’s Planner, will provide a summary of the Pool World report and facilitate a discussion and exercise geared toward identifying the type of facility and amenities the community desires. The intent is to provide the Tonasket Pool Committee and City Council with a vision and target for fundraising efforts to build, maintain and operate a new facility. The future of a protected place for youth to learn to swim and for everyone in the community to enjoy hangs in the balance so please consider attending the workshop and add to the discussion and participate in the decision making process.

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