Price tag climbs for new pool

"Bainbridge Island taxpayers allowed the park district to spend $4.5 million dollars of their money to build a new swimming pool facility.District officials estimated this week, however, that the addition to the Ray Williamson Memorial Pool will cost more than $5.44 million.Though the conceptual work on the pool’s design is largely set in architect’s blue ink, they’re not panicking.“My experience is that there’s a lot of wiggle room to shave costs here without any discernable loss in project quality or program offerings,” park district director Dave Lewis said.How much wiggle room the district will get for the 25,688-square-foot facility depends on a fund-raising campaign that hasn’t really gotten started. Project manager John Hartsock, who outlined the new pool’s budget for parks commissioners in a Thursday study session, estimates that revenues on the 20-year general obligation bonds will total $4.44 million – plus $400,000 in interest income.Should a planned $500,000 fund-raising effort come to fruition, the revenue would come just $98,500 short of the projected cost.That’s where the true wiggle room comes in, however.For every unanticipated expense – such as a required fire pump that recently added $65,000 to the cost, or the school district’s wish that the exterior’s brick facade match that of the nearby new Bainbridge High School gymnasium – there’s an opportunity for offsetting savings, Hartsock and Lewis said.For example, eliminating a “four-hour” fire wall between the adjoining buildings, plus some decking and steps, could trim $100,000, they said. Setting aside features such as the new pool’s ozone regulator ($150,000) water slide ($130,000), and sound system ($30,000) until after the pool is completed could also ease pressure on the budget. That would also ensure that such perceived “frills” would be paid for entirely from privately raised money.The budget also features a contingency fund of $150,000 to cover any change orders or construction cost overruns.But that’s considered untouchable because compared to other projects of similar scale, “it’s a tad light,” Hartsock said.Another source of offsetting revenues could be charging for discreetly placed local corporate logos around the pool area, as well as soft drink and other exclusive product-licensing contracts.The largest concern, however, is getting the fund-raising campaign on wheels. The commissioners talked about the issue but left Thursday’s meeting without a firm plan.“I can’t emphasize enough that the private fund-raising needs to take shape sooner than later,” Hartsock said.Another area of worry is in getting permits from the city on time to go out for construction bids by January 2000 and break ground by next spring.Hartsock and Lewis reported that the city public works department is three weeks late in offering its comments on the pool’s site plan. Nevertheless, they plan to submit their application of a conditional-use permit on the school district property by Nov. 1.“This still allows us plenty of time for an April (or) May start,” Hartsock said. “I’ll make a pest of myself to see that they get it out as quick as they can.”#######"

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