Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Leavenworth City Council approves funding for PRSA Pool Feasibility Study

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On November 8, 2022, at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting, Councilmembers unanimously voted to approve a funding request from the Upper Valley Park and Recreation Service Area (PRSA) in the amount of $69,820 for a Pool Feasibility Study.
A feasibility study was the next step for the PRSA after last year’s Recreational Needs Assessment, which was completed in September 2021. The goal of the needs assessment was to give the PRSA a better understanding of what our community’s recreational needs are today and to prepare for long-term recreational planning. The assessment included numerous community engagement activities and a statistically valid community survey. Through all the activities and the survey, the community gave consistent feedback pointing to a very tangible need: a year-round pool with improved access and services.
Earlier this summer, the PRSA published a Request for Qualifications for a feasibility study. Five responses were received and reviewed, and after interviews, NAC Architecture was deemed the most qualified and was selected to conduct the study. With the help of subcontractors that specialize in aquatic centers and cost estimating, NAC Architecture will be designing two options with cost estimates that would give the community year-round swimming opportunities.
At a site visit on November 16th, representatives from NAC Architecture and Water Technology, Inc., met with stakeholders from the PRSA, City Council, and City/Pool Staff. During the site visit, which officially kicks off the project, the consultants evaluated the condition of the pool, equipment, building, and layout. They also asked about how the pool is currently used – what works well, what doesn’t work well, and what the current operational and maintenance challenges are.

One key consideration is long-term maintenance. For example, the current pool tank (the shell that holds the water) has a finish that requires attention at least every two years if not every year, which can be costly. Today, pools are designed differently than they were twenty years ago when the current pool was built. Better materials and a more efficient design could decrease the annual maintenance cost significantly, which would lessen the operational cost burden.
Another consideration in a future design is limiting emergency closures, if possible. For example, figuring out if it’s feasible to create two separate pools and water filtration systems so that if there’s another fecal incident the pool can continue to operate, closing just one area instead of the entire pool. (Yes, this is honestly a debate in the pool world, with many pros and cons! It’s also something the City/Pool staff have been working on options for, and some of the “fixes” would take larger equipment or operational changes).
Perhaps the biggest question is not the cost, but the difference between costs – cost to renovate vs. cost to build new. All these questions, and the need for answers, is precisely why a feasibility study is the next step to determine the path forward for year-round swimming in Leavenworth.
One thing that is not in question is this: The community and the PRSA taxpayers will be involved in the process and ultimately, the decision to move forward with a preferred design. The PRSA Board, which includes Councilmembers Jason Lundgren and Marco Aurilio, and City staff, were adamant that the options, costs, and tradeoffs must be communicated, and a two-way conversation line must be kept open to the community and taxpayers throughout the process.
Expect to see a ‘Pool Feasibility Study’ table at the next Community Engagement Night on January 31st, a survey, and other outreach efforts as the PRSA works on providing an amenity that the community so clearly said was needed.

For questions about this article, please contact Christie Voos at media@cityofleavenworth.com.

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