BI parks contemplates dive into new pool vs. a fix

The Bainbridge Island Metro Parks and Recreation District is debating how much money to spend fixing up Ray Williamson Pool when a new pool is what’s really needed.

Park Services Division director Dan Hamlin said $1.1 million has been budgeted in the next three years for renovations.

But Commissioner Tom Goodlin said that kind of expenditure, to revive the pool, needs to be compared to the cost for a replacement pool. He said it is a shame to put money into something that is not serving the community all that well, as it is undersized. If there is anything of immediate concern or dangerous that should be taken care of.

Commissioner Dawn Janow said the repair of the pool is important, and money is already allocated for it.

Commissioner Tom Swolgaard said that if the pool was to be replaced there would still be a commitment to keep the Ray Williamson pool operational during construction. A new pool would not be able to be built without passing a bond. Commissioner Ken DeWitt noted that it took five tries to get a bond passed for the Don Nakata pool.

In public comments, Quynh-Anh Nguyen said that it is critical to have a pool for swimming as an activity for older people to stay healthy.

Nick Schnee said that it is necessary to have a good aquatic center. He encouraged the board to think long-term about at what point it is more cost-effective to build a new facility.

Barney Voegtlen said a new pool is needed, and he asked the board to think about the costs of maintaining Ray Williamson vs. building a new pool and said that the aquatic community can raise the money for a new pool.

Melody Leung of Stemper Architecture Collaborative started the discussion by saying her team reviewed the architectural, mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, electrical and structural systems of the pool. Leung talked to commissioners about the risk assessment that includes lead time for materials, installation, life cycle, disruption impact on pool, preliminary cost, and recommendations.

She said the pool must continue to operate with minimized shutdowns to limit loss of revenue. The next thing to do is determine the primary scope of critical items with preliminary costs of about $2.7 million.

Commissioner Jay Kinney asked how long the pool would have to be shut down to address the critical repairs. Leung said that some of the items will require a shutdown and some will not, but they would work with staff for minimal impact on programming. However, a similar pool in Seattle was shut down for up to a year, she said.

Park Services superintendent David Harry said staff would like the board to move forward with cost estimating, construction drawings and extending the contract with Stemper. He said shutdown periods may be able to be broken down into shorter periods of time but that would extend the length of the process.

DeWitt said he thinks the board should move forward with Stemper to get the critical items prioritized and an estimate of costs. Goodlin said he would like to see those items that would have to be addressed even if the board were to move forward with a replacement pool.

In the end, the board agreed that staff should move forward working with Stemper on the project.

In other news:

Recreation Division superintendent Bryan Garoutte said 10 additional spots for BI Recreation Center tennis memberships will be open soon. There have been some issues with parking at BIRC during peak hours, and staff is working on that. There is a new tot tennis class at BIRC. And February’s middle school dance had a record 150 participants.

Goodlin said that he and Kinney met with BI school board president Mark Emerson about the Aquatic Center. Emerson did not see a problem with a similar size pool to Ray Williamson being built in the north parking lot of the Aquatic Center.

But parks executive director Terry Lande said if a new pool was built there, the Aquatic Center would be down a parking lot as the Ray Williamson pool area would be turned into a parking lot for the high school.