BI parks to wade into new pool commitment

Wants to take temperature of what swimmers want

Instead of diving into building a new pool on Bainbridge Island the parks district has decided to wade in to see if the swimming community wants to add two more lanes to the planned project.

The BI Metro Parks and Recreation District already has plans for renovations at Ray Williamson pool at the Aquatic Center.

Phase I could begin in early summer and go through spring of 2025. It would include rehabilitating the old locker room area, concrete repairs, electrical upgrades, and replacement of the HVAC system. Some work will require pool closure. Phase II addresses everything related to the pool deck and pool itself. Stemper Architecture is thinking the work could be accomplished between late spring to fall of 2025. During Phase II the pool would be closed. The cost for Phase I is estimated at $3.045 million For Phase II the cost is estimated at $2.085 million.

In December Stemper was asked to study the feasibility of adding two lanes. Stemper president and managing member Melody Leung said that would require a new permit review and would potentially trigger substantial alteration. For example, life safety systems would be required to be upgraded, along with seismic upgrade requirements for the building. It would add significant cost and closure time.

The original design was approved in June by the board. A construction package was created to go to bid and permit. The permit package was submitted to the city of BI in late November and is under review in a process that takes up to 20 weeks. Stemper started to talk to contractors and vendors to determine the cost and feasibility. Ray Williamson pool construction sequencing is critical as there is a need to try and maintain an open building and programming with few other options for users.

The Don Nakata pool will have to shut down for a period during Phase II. Aquatic Program Administrator Jenette Reneau said she is working finding alternatives for swimmers when the pool is closed.

At a recent meeting, some commissioners showed support for adding the two more lanes.

Commissioner Tom Goodlin said adding two lanes would add 33% of space to the pool, which would be huge for the community. He later said the idea of adding lanes is exciting because it is an opportunity to come back after the closure period to something that will be greatly improved. Goodlin asked if, even with the cost associated with a modified Phase II, it is still a fair amount cheaper than tearing the building down and rebuilding. Leung confirmed it would be a huge difference in cost to start from the ground up. Leung said upgrades will extend the life of the pool from 20-50 years.

Commissioner Dawn Janow said she wants to hear from the swimming community.

Also, retiring executive director Terry Lande said now that the final purchase price has been established for the Comcast Property staff need authorization to pay the difference, which is $260,000. The initial $850,000 payment was previously authorized by the board. The money is all coming from an anonymous donor.

Aquatic Program Administrator Jenette Reneau said the Ray Williamson pool was shut down for a couple weeks due to issues with the heater. She said she was really impressed with the swimming community as they navigated sharing reduced space. She added Aquatic Center staffing levels are strong, allowing patrons more opportunities for swimming than there have been in the last four years.

Park Services superintendent Lydia Roush said the tree thinning project is underway at Strawberry Hill Park and thinning at Moritani Preserve will begin in a few weeks. Goodlin asked if there was enough value in the wood to cover the cost of the thinning. Roush said there was enough to substantially offset the cost. Commissioner Jay Kinney said that regarding field three at Strawberry Hill Park, the right outfield is not 200 feet. He would like it if the row of trees behind the fence could be removed so the ballfield could be extended there.