September 19, 2008
Best plan is for dual swimming pools
The city has hired consultants to tell them what’s wrong with the current Issaquah pool. Hey, it’s 36 years old, built to serve a city one-quarter of the size of today’s Issaquah. The lockers are rusty, the locker room floors are disgusting, school-aged boys change clothes alongside their mothers and sagging senior women, the showers are sometimes near scalding (better than the former lukewarm-then-cold) and the lap lanes are crowded.
But the pool water is clear and warm, the staff is upbeat and professional, families pack the place on movie nights, children are learning their swim lessons and the swim teams are fairing well at meets. Overall, it’s a great place to play or work out.
Fast forward another decade and where does that put us? The consultants are asking that question of you in public meetings before advising the city on a future path.
We expect the report will say a new pool is needed. Not just a new pool, but a second pool. The existing pool has a beautiful structure and a great location, but is coming near the day when it will need a major overhaul. Build a new pool — preferably in the Highlands where early residents expressed an interest a few years ago — then close the downtown pool for a makeover.
It would take a construction bond vote to pass before funds could be collected for the dual pools, and we think voters would support it. But before going to the voters for a property tax increase, the city needs to first take a look at its fees, starting with the $2 annual pass for senior citizens.
Two dollars per year is ridiculous, and hardly worth the staff time to collect it. While seniors should get a reduced rate, an annual pass of $25-50 is not out of line. Many senior swimmers agree.
The city should also seek future contracts with the school district to provide a practice place for high school swim teams and swim lessons for middle school students. Two pools would require immediate high usage to offset double maintenance costs. Assured use could help voters feel confident that the need for two pools is there.
The consultants will have no trouble learning what is wanted in a new pool. Some want water slides and sprays for fun times; others want Jacuzzi pools, family changing rooms, better access for the handicapped, birthday party rooms, adjacent exercise workout areas. The list of options is long — and exciting.
Be sure to speak up with your own ideas, keeping your pocket book in mind. The first meeting is from 7-8:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Tibbetts Creek Manor.