Second swim pool still years away

June 30, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Swimmers with hopes to cool off at a city pool in the Issaquah Highlands will instead have to cool their heels: Plans to build a second municipal pool and overhaul the existing Julius Boehm Pool are years distant.

City officials will consider a $31 million proposal to build a pool at Central Park in the highlands and a $21 million plan to expand and upgrade the downtown Julius Boehm Pool. But city staffers would not begin design work on the Julius Boehm Pool project until 2011 and the highlands pool until 2012 under budget priorities in the most recent Capital Improvement Plan.

The document outlines city projects related to parks, transportation and utilities. CIP projects are slated for implementation during the next six years.

When the City Council approved the priority list June 15, neither pool effort was ranked near the top of 61 Parks & Recreation Department projects — No. 24 for the renovation and No. 37 for the highlands pool.

Department Director Anne McGill said Issaquah long outgrew Julius Boehm Pool, opened in 1972, when the city was home to about 3,000 people. Nowadays, Issaquah has about 26,000 residents.

“We’ve changed and it’s still the same six-lane pool,” she said.

Before the proposals were cemented in the CIP, members of the city Park Board recommended both pool options to Mayor Ava Frisinger and the City Council.

Julius Boehm Pool would be expanded to eight lanes, and a recreational pool would be constructed. Officials said the improvements would add 30 years to the facility’s lifespan. The highlands option calls for the construction of a lap pool, recreational pool and a spray park. But McGill said features would not be finalized until city officials gathered input from citizens. She said the plans would most likely include recreational elements — such as a spray park or a hot tub — but added the end result would not be as elaborate as, say, a water park.

“It’s not Wild Waves or anything like that,” she said, referring to the Federal Way theme park. “But it’s definitely a component.”

Park Board Chairman Leo Finnegan outlined the options to Frisinger in a February letter.

“These two options target the growing communities of Issaquah, both on the Issaquah Valley floor and the plateau region,” Finnegan wrote. “Although the current economic situation nationally is grim, now is the time to plan for future aquatic facilities.

“Increased high-density condos and town homes will be built in Issaquah to accommodate increased growth, as the Puget Sound region prepares for another population boom in the next 25 years,” he continued.

McGill acknowledged the national recession and tough budget session city officials will soon undertake. She said officials planned to approach other agencies and nonprofits to help pay for construction or renovations. McGill said the proposed timeline meant it would be too early to discuss potential partners.

Other officials are hopeful federal stimulus dollars could trickle to the pool efforts. Finnegan noted the possibility in his letter to the mayor.

“The economic stimulus packages currently under development in Washington, D.C., are to award funding to communities that are prepared with projects ready to be built,” Finnegan wrote.

He indicated the pool renovation could be a potential recipient.

After city officials earmark design dollars for a pool project, McGill said officials would reach out to citizens and other stakeholders — such as the Issaquah School District and swim teams — to determine the features wanted most by community members.

“There are a lot of different options out there,” McGill said.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment on this story at

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