BI parks still planning out pool expansion

Bainbridge Island Metro Parks and Recreation District commissioners aren’t going off the deep end, but they do have a lot to consider regarding expanding plans for the renovation of Ray Williamson pool at the Aquatic Center.

Original plans were to cost about $5.1 million, but expanding it two lanes, deepening part of it and other associated requirements and improvements would likely double that.

Senior planner Matthew Keough said in December, as Stemper Architecture Collaborative was getting close to 100% construction documents, they were asked to do a feasibility study on an expanded Phase II.

There are 15 critical items that must be addressed to keep the pool functioning and are part of the original scope of work. The seasonal high water table necessitates that the project be done in two phases with Phase I tentatively scheduled for 2024 and the original Phase II scheduled to be complete by the end of 2025.

The work is designed to allow the pool to last another 20-50 years.

Executive director Terry Lande said staff is narrowing the possible funding mechanisms for an expanded Phase II, which appear to be bond, fundraising and grant. Borrowing the money is out as paying it back would cost almost the entire budget for the next 10 years. To meet the proposed timeline, there are a lot of important decisions to be made in the next two months.

Lande said without major support from the aquatic community an expanded Phase II is not going to go anywhere.

Park Services Division director Dan Hamlin said there is an effort to gauge interest in the community. A group interested in building a private pool has said it wants to finish its feasibility study before deciding whether to support an expanded Phase II.

Commissioner Jay Kinney said that over the last few years, large bonds over $50 million have been discussed in terms of a new pool or a fieldhouse. He thinks it might be an advantageous time for a small bond for something like this, especially with any Bainbridge Island School District plans for capital improvement bonds on hold.

Jim Boulgarides spoke in support of adding two lanes to the pool and said there is a lot of the swimming public that would support this project even if the private pool group does not.

Paul Webber said this is a wealthy island, and people are willing to write checks; he believes that a bond would have public financial support behind it. He also said during public comments that he is excited about the potential for a wider and deeper pool. Any way the length of the closure period can be shortened is important. If the pool is widened and deepened, the more it can be treated as a partnership with the aquatic community the more successful it will be. The big picture is that this is a way to help increase the physical and mental health of youth and adults.

Commissioner Tom Goodlin said he has had a lot of informal conversations about the pool. There is a lot of enthusiasm even though there would be some hardship with it being shut down.

Meanwhile, Hamlin said staff is entertaining an option to lease vehicles. It is being considered because 16 of the district’s 31 vehicles are at least 20 years old. The replacement plan is budgeted at $155,000 per year. The district is no longer able to achieve the targeted 10-year replacement schedule for vehicles. Transitioning to electric vehicles would not be possible for a long time with the current replacement plan.

It is difficult for the district mechanic to keep up with the size of the fleet, and there is a maintenance component in the lease program. With the vehicle lease program, savings would be realized in fuel costs with more fuel-efficient vehicles and with reduced required maintenance. The lease program vehicles would be on a five-year replacement schedule. If the district participates in the lease program about $170,000 a year would need to be budgeted for the replacement plan.

In other news, Hamlin asked if the board would object if Kitsap Public Utility District left the new water tower on their easement at Gazzam Lake Nature Preserve as unpainted concrete. Commissioner Tom Swolgaard said he would object as painting it was agreed to.

Also, Rotary Club reached out about installing a solar charging table at Battle Point Park, which has been approved.

Finally, Hamlin was offered a 10% increase to become acting executive director, which he agreed to. His salary would go from $144,947 to $159,442.