Boehm Pool upgrades favored in study

December 2, 2008

By Jon Savelle

Results of an aquatics feasibility study were unveiled to the public and City Council Nov. 25, and they have clarified the options for new or improved swimming pools in Issaquah. The most feasible — and most popular — are either to conduct a major overhaul of Julius Boehm Pool, or to build a new pool complex in the Issaquah Highlands.

The study, begun in September, was conducted by a team of consultants. They used a telephone survey and public meetings to gauge the public’s needs and preferences; examined the existing pool for deficiencies; reviewed possible sites for a new aquatics center; and developed a cost breakdown for each of six options.

Those options were explained to the council by Ken Ballard, whose Ballard*King consulting firm led the study.

Option A would retain Boehm Pool with minor improvements to the building, pool and systems. It would cost $4.8 million with an annual subsidy of $226,000.

Option B would retain Boehm, as in Option A, but add a recreation pool and a larger deck with a recreational “sprayground.” It would cost $9.6 million with an annual subsidy of about $200,000.

Option B+ includes the first two options, with a larger recreation pool, and adds an eight-lane lap pool, spectator seating and a birthday party room. It would cost $20.3 million with an annual subsidy of about $170,000.

Option C would build a new aquatic center in the highlands with a recreation pool, lap pool, spectator seating, party rooms, spa and sprayground. It would cost $31.7 million with an annual subsidy of $150,000 to $200,000.

Option D includes Option C plus a weight and cardiovascular workout area, a group exercise room, a gymnasium and a community room. It would cost $45 million with an annual subsidy of $50,000 to $100,000.

Option E includes Option A (retain Boehm with minor improvements) and Option C (new aquatics center) with the possibility of future expansion. It would cost $37.4 million with an annual subsidy of $551,000 to $651,000.

A new aquatics center in the highlands would most likely be built on Pad 4 in Central Park, just south of Grand Ridge Elementary School. That site, now bare dirt, met the requirements for a large, flat, city-owned parcel in a convenient location with ample parking.

It is also favored by many survey respondents.

“Options C or B+ seem to be the preferred options,” Ballard said.

In researching pool users’ preferences, Ballard’s firm conducted a telephone survey of city residents. But he noted that Boehm Pool actually serves a much larger area that includes parts of Sammamish, Maple Valley, Preston and Newcastle. Its margins roughly correspond to the boundaries of the Issaquah School District.

This caught the attention of council members, who asked why only the city was surveyed if the pool is actually a regional asset. Ballard said his team had discussed the question, but they decided to focus just on those pool users who would be paying for improvements.

In response, Councilman Fred Butler observed that if the pool attracts regional users then it should be funded through regional partnerships, such as with the Issaquah School District.

Next steps are to identify one preferred option and develop more detailed analyses and a master plan. Already, the team has determined that Boehm Pool is suitable for an overhaul. The pool itself and building shell are sound, so a virtually new facility could be built around those components.

Architect Jim Kalvelage said that is a good option.

“We believe the shell is the type of building you would build today,” he said. “For all practical purposes, it really is a new pool.”

This solution would serve the community for another 30 years, Kalvelage said.

To make it happen, money has to be found. The choices are a public bond issue in 2010; partnering with the school district, swim teams or other communities; establishing a Parks & Recreation Service Area special facilities district; securing grants; and selling naming rights.

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment on this story at

Bookmark and Share
Other Stories of Interest: , , , , , , ,


Got something to say?

Before you comment, please note:

  • These comments are moderated.
  • Comments should be relevant to the topic at hand and contribute to its discussion.
  • Personal attacks and/or excessive profanity will not be tolerated and such comments will not be approved.
  • This is not your personal chat room or forum, so please stay on topic.