As discussions over a new community pool in the valley continue, Snoqualmie has rejected the most recent plan from Si View Metro Parks District (Si View) to collaborate for a regional aquatic facility. The city council at its Oct. 14 meeting asserted that they will instead continue with the city’s own community center expansion plans.
Si View presented its most recent plan to the Snoqualmie Valley School District on Sept. 26, and had yet to formally make an offer or give a proposal to the city, but the city has made their position clear.
With population growth in the valley, there is an identified need for larger athletic facilities and more recreational aquatic spaces. A competitive length pool is desired for local events, along with space for swim lessons, lap swim, water aerobics classes and leisure.
Various plans are currently under discussion by both the city and Si View, who have each come up with their own designs. There is the option to partner together for a facility, or there is the possibility of creating separate facilities.
Si View Executive Director Travis Stombaugh said he is disappointed by this rejection. He said hat they didn’t even get the opportunity to make a formal proposal to the city or discuss different options for funding a joint effort. He hopes that the city and Si View, along with the school district, can still come to some sort of agreement.
“I’m very disappointed. This is the valley’s really only shot for a long time,” he said. “If we don’t come together to build a more regional aquatics facility then the resources are split in the valley. What you would get now is not going to be sufficient enough for the needs of the future. The opportunity won’t come around again for another 30 to 40 years when the population would become big enough to support two facilities.”
Si View has conducted a comprehensive feasibility study that considered what it would take to create a regional aquatic facility that would meet current and future needs. Stombaugh said community feedback was gathered from a survey and from several open meetings with hundreds of valley residents in attendance, which led them to a community driven plan.
Their facility plan took into account citizen input and national experts’ advice, and includes a cost proposal with a phase approach and a build out approach, Stombaugh said. It suggests two different possible locations, one of which is in the city of Snoqualmie.
He said the preferred option for the facility that was proposed at a school board meeting, if the full build out was completed at the maximum scope, would cost about $43 million. They would ask the school district to contribute about $2.5 million. Then the city and Si View would split the rest of the cost. Si View’s presentation to the school board detailed the city of Snoqualmie contributing about $19 million.
However, Stombaugh said these figures are adjustable and can be discussed.
“We understand $43 million is a lot,” he said. “But we just start there and then the scope is malleable. If monetarily it’s not palatable then we can scale it back. Those are discussions we haven’t had yet … We can find out what’s the sweet spot if $19 million is too much. Let’s find a solution that is equitable for both partners but doesn’t create barriers.”
The full scope Si View aquatics facility would include competitive space, an 8-lane lap pool, a 3-lane lap pool, space for 80 spectators, depths needed for diving, dry classroom space and fun, recreational features such as splash buckets, a lazy river, and a water slide.
This facility would be operated by Si View and no membership fees would be charged — it would be free and open to anyone without barriers.
The city meanwhile has been planning on expanding its community center, an effort that is also supported by positive feedback from a community survey. $10 million for this project was included in the recently adopted 2020-2025 Non-Utilities Capital Improvement Plan.
The expansion could overall cost between $12.5 million and $16.5 million. It would include not just aquatic space, but also growing the center’s dry space.
The community center is owned by the city but managed by the YMCA, which charges membership fees, and the YMCA under this plan would contribute $2.5 million from grants and other sources. It is possible the school district and other aquatics partners would contribute funds.
Details and exact design features are being weighed as well as funding options. There would either be a 3-lane lap pool or a 6-lane lap pool and potentially a plaza with a spray park.
“A statistically valid survey showed that Snoqualmie residents are overwhelmingly in favor of expanding the community center including an aquatics facility with warm water pools and a lap pool,” Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said in a press release. “The lap pool would have a minimum of three lap lanes or could be a six-lane competitive pool if the Snoqualmie Valley School District chooses to join us as a potential funding partner.”
Larson said a major goal with the city’s plan is to not increase taxes. The monetary contribution needed from the city for Si View’s plan is greater than the reach of the city’s currently planned resources and budget, he said. Partnering with Si View in this way would require property tax increases, but the current plan for community center expansion would not.
The options, as Larson sees it as this point, are to partner with Si View on a wet space and still have to update their community center’s dry space and therefore spend about $26 million on those two separate projects, or to stick with the city’s current proposal to double the dry space and add an equally large wet space all in one package for $10 million.
He told the Valley Record that Si View’s plan did not have enough of the specific details hammered out that the city would like to see, including location and cost. He said this has made it difficult to come to decisions.
However, he said there is still a possibility of working together on some sort of updated combined effort.
“We’re all trying to tend to a need, and it’s exciting. It’d be great if we could find a common place,” Larson said. “If we get to a partnership, great. If not, nobody’s the bad guy.”
Stombaugh also said this is a possibility: “We are still very open to discussing with the city. I think it would be a mistake not to keep exploring this option with the city,” he said. “I really don’t want to see the community short changed. I think it’s worth continuing to explore the options of the partnership.”
Both Larson and Stombaugh mentioned that this effort could be broken apart with one party taking on the competitive space and the other moving forward with their recreational or dry space plans.
“We most likely wouldn’t want to duplicate any facility in the valley,” Stombaugh said. “If the YMCA gets a competitive pool, then our facility wouldn’t have a competitive component.”
The school district has not currently made any decisions, or chosen a side, and is open to hearing all the options.
“At this point, we are still in the listening stage. We continue to work toward understanding the different proposals and what, if any, our role could be in supporting one or both,” said Superintendent Rob Manahan. “Regardless, the district would not commit any bond or state match dollars until a public hearing is held. Our rough timeline is for me (superintendent) to make a recommendation to the School Board, as to our next steps in the process, by the end of November.”