Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Letter: Spending $100,000 on the Hartman Pool to keep it operating is a bargain

The statement that the Redmond Pool is "failing" and on "life support" is part of the City's campaign to convince us that the old pool at the top of the hill needs to be replaced by a big, shiny, vibrant Community Center in the downtown.

What part of the pool is failing? It doesn't leak. The ceiling isn't caving in. In fact, the pool is in excellent condition - given that it's 44 years old. Spending $100,000 to keep it operating is a bargain.

In contrast, a new community and aquatic center would cost $70,000,000. If the City sold 30-year bonds to cover construction costs, the community center would cost more than $3 MILLION PER YEAR for the next 30 years just to pay off the bonds for the building. 

Annual operating costs for the community and aquatic center could be more than $1,000,000 per year and would only be partially offset by user fees. Redmond taxpayers would have to make up the difference. We would need a Municipal Parks District with taxing authority (up to $.75/thousand) in order to fund the operation of the pool/community center.

The Redmond Pool isn't glamorous or fancy, but it has provided swimming lessons for thousands of children over the years at a reasonable price. The pool has also provided a venue for swim meets, lap swim, open swim, water aerobics, pool parties and even scuba diving and kayaking lessons. 

The pool is centrally located at the top of Education Hill - across from Redmond High School where pool patrons can find ample free parking in the high school parking lot when school is not in session (after 2 PM, on weekends and during the summer.) High school students can walk to swim team practice right after school without the need for car or bus transportation. Buses that bring students from other schools for swim meets have no trouble finding parking.

The downtown has grown significantly since 2011 when the community center was first proposed. It has become crowded and congested with inadequate parking for current residents and businesses. The community center would need its own multilevel parking garage and even that would not be adequate. (Try finding a parking place at the library or on the street any afternoon!)

Updating the Redmond Pool by building a small addition with better locker rooms, wading pools and therapeutic pools would be far more cost efficient. Hartman Park has plenty of room for the pool building expansion. Keeping the pool at its current location next to Hartman Park would make the pool more accessible to everyone because of the availability of parking.

Maybe it's time to rethink the City's plan to add a Community and Aquatics Center to the downtown.

Shari Wilson


CBek said...

I'm curious to know if you know if the Snohomish Aquatic Center is able to pay for itself? I believe it cost around $22 million. It is a great facility and offers a lot to community members young and old. We make the trek from Redmond to both this and the Lynnwood pool. I have pool envy when I compare them to the Redmond Pool!

Brian Hansford said...

I wholly disagree the current pool is in "excellent" condition. It's actually in quite poor condition but kept at an operational level. I know this because my son was a lifeguard at the pool for over three years. I'm also a former competitive swimmer who has experienced dozens of pool facilities all over the western US with varying degrees of quality and maintenance. The Redmond Pool is embarrassing for a community like ours.

Looking at the pool and a new community center in pure dollars and cents is the wrong perspective. A new or upgraded facility would be very valuable for the community as a whole. I am a big advocate of youth and school competitive swim programs and right now our kids have terrible places to practice and compete. (Unless of course you belong to the Pro Club.) I have never seen a community center or pool that isn't utilized dawn to dusk. With the population growth I am confident our community would utilize and value a new or upgraded pool. All age groups, especially youth, and adults would benefit. Yes, I understand there's a cost burden we need to decide on. But I have to be honest. I'd rather have a new community center/pool than more of the crappy lego block apartments the City Planners eagerly encourage. At least there's some "Community" and potentially even recreational "culture" in the idea of new recreational facilities.

-Brian Hansford

CBek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Yoder said...

CBek and Brian -

The City, LWSD and WAVE Aquatics are partnering to plan for aquatics programs in the event Hartman Pool closes. It is my hope the City of Redmond, LWSD, WAVE and the City of Kirkland will partner to build a new, shared aquatic center. Why? Because it would cost Redmond citizens less $$$ and a smaller bond would be more likely to pass.

I competitively swam in my youth and value a good, clean pool. I'll admit the H.P. water is less than pristine and it's time to build a new one. But to combine a community center bond with an aquatics center is too much for Redmond taxpayers to bear...and I don't think it will pass...not at all.

Yes, CBek. Let's take the Snohomish approach.

Carrie Hafner said...

The cost of swim lessons at Hartman Pool has been overpriced, at $20 per lesson, so for the last 6 months I have been commuting to Snohomish for $6 lessons at their high quality facility. I plan to be involved with the conversation about the new pool planning, so the facility will be accessible to everyone, and not just for those willing to pay an arm and a leg for basic swim instruction. And also, I would be outraged if the new facility does not put a high priority on the aquatics center, and only designs a small pool area. The new facility in Sammamish has a tiny pool, and it is operated by the YMCA, so it isn't even available to everyone, just members. Redmond better not follow Sammamish's example.