Wanted: New pool

August 11, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Parks survey consistent

Issaquah residents are pleased with municipal parks, trails and the city-run farmers market. A survey conducted by the city Parks & Recreation Department showed residents happy with the state of the park system, and offered a glimpse at the features people want.

Hebert Research, of Bellevue, contacted 400 Issaquah residents in May. Respondents were asked a series of questions about existing facilities and possible parks improvements.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said parks were important in their lives. About 64 percent of respondents visited a city park or recreation facility within the past year. Responses showed Memorial Park is likely the most-used city park.

Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said the survey is a key tool to help her team cater to park goers. About 1,500 acres of parks and open space fall under city jurisdiction. McGill said providing a variety of activities for city residents is an integral part of managing the park system.

“What people do in their free time is how they define themselves,” she said.

Parks & Recreation officials held a pair of open houses in April to collect opinions about the park system and solicit ideas about future park improvements.

Combined with survey data, the community input was used in the updated Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Plan. The document outlines goals, such as protecting the environment while developing parks.

Surveyors also asked residents about the Julius Boehm Pool and possible aquatics improvements, such as the construction of a spray park. McGill said the parks are en vogue among parks professionals because they are cheaper and easier to construct and maintain than pools. But residents remain interested in improvements to Boehm Pool or a new facility.

“What we found from our pool feasibility study is that people still want pools,” McGill said.

The aging Boehm Pool opened in 1972, when the city was home to about 3,000 people. State figures show Issaquah had 26,890 residents in April 2009.

Plans to build a second municipal pool and overhaul the existing Boehm Pool are years distant. But city staffers would not begin design work on the Boehm Pool project until 2011 at the earliest and the highlands pool until 2012 under budget priorities in the most recent Capital Improvement Plan.

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

McGill said some of the first questions prospective residents ask when they consider moving to Issaquah are related to parks and recreation facilities. She said the facilities often help people assimilate into their new surroundings and meet their neighbors.

“You find a community,” she said.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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