Parks bond talks move forward
April 9, 2013
By Peter Clark
After a hourlong presentation delivered from the Parks & Recreations Department on a proposed park bond, the City Council decided to move forward with the discussion instead of acting immediately.
It was introduced by Councilwoman Eileen Barber, chairwoman of the council Services & Safety Committee, who detailed the goals the city accomplished with previous park bonds. In the 2006 passage that gave the department $3.5 million of tax funds, the Parks & Recreation administration was able to leverage it into $6.25 million through grant funding.
“We do well with our park bonds,” Barber said.
Specifically, the presentation covered two areas the department hoped to address should the bond pass with voter approval: the Julius Boehm Pool and park development.
Parks Manager Ric Patterson took the council through an extensive slideshow that detailed the numerous areas of the pool that he said needed immediate attention. Built in 1971, the pool received a comprehensive analysis in 2009 that showed a wide range of deficiencies in the facility’s integrity. He listed exterior decay, HVAC fixes, corroded drainage and a need for a new piping system.
“The likelihood of an emergency shutdown will increase as we continue to use the pool,” he said. “We don’t know what a life expectancy is on it.”
He also said city officials would like to make a number of minor cosmetic improvements that include an improved entry, new front desk , new windows and new family changing rooms.
Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said between 500 and 600 users per day take advantage of the facility, swim lessons or take part in the King County Drowning Prevention Coalition.
“We have all ages and all skill levels using the pool all day long,” she said.
Parks & Recreation Manager Brian Berntsen told the council what the department hopes to accomplish in the way of park development. He listed potential options for two skate parks, children’s playgrounds, picnic shelters, bleachers, new lighting at Tibbetts Valley Park, field drainage and sports field improvements.
Before the presentations were delivered, Barber had introduced a motion that pushed the discussion of the bond to the council’s May work session. It seemed the correct thing to do, considering the number of questions raised after the presentations.
Council members asked questions about the lifespan of such improvements. The pool received moderate upgrades in the early 1980s and there was a concern about the facility’s longevity. The same questions were asked about the park improvement and the need for additional skate parks.
On the opposite end, Councilman Joshua Schaer asked whether the department could seek a larger bond.
“If we’re talking about significant repairs, why not dream bigger?” he asked the department representatives. “I’m interested in the range.”
McGill said in a later interview that the presentation to the council went pretty much the way she had predicted.
“We expected they would move it forward to a work session,” she said. “It’s pretty typical of a topic of this magnitude. They want lots more discussion, a lot more meetings. They’ve got time.”
With Aug. 1 being the King County deadline to put the park bond on the ballot, the council does have several months to weigh its options and hear public comment. Before it takes up the topic again, the Park Board has the bond listed on its April 22 meeting for an update. The meeting will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Issaquah Trails Center House, 110 Bush St.