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Grandview debates size of pool

GRANDVIEW - Without a quorum, the Grandview Park and Recreation Service Area Board last night informally discussed plans for a new multi-million dollar aquatic center they want to bring before voters in May 2005.

Recent county projections indicate that the election will need 1,200 votes to be validated and of those votes 721, or 60 percent, would have to be "yes" for the bond issue to pass.

A bond issue for a similar facility was narrowly defeated about two years ago. With less than 50 votes separating both sides, the Grandview City Council asked the park and recreation service area board to make a run at passing a similar bond issue, perhaps as soon as 2005.

"If it was 500 votes separating them, than no, we probably wouldn't be trying again," said City Council representative Pam Horner.

She said that since the vote was so close, it told the council that many in the community wanted the aquatic center.

The time to promote the bond is better now, according to City Manager Jim Sewell.

He explained there is a good possibility that voters will not be paying any more for the pool than they are paying right now. Sewell explained that with the Wal-Mart distribution center paying into the city coffers this next year, the residents of the community will see a decrease in their property and school taxes. The actual savings has not been figured out yet, but Sewell said they will be getting hard numbers soon.

Sewell said the city may also be able to save money depending on when they go out to bid. He said bidding in the fall, they may have more competitive bids than other times of the year when there is lots of work to be had. Sewell added that not putting a tight deadline on the contractor could also help save money. Copeland said that officials from TSE, the company that came up with the pool design, said that when asking for bids at the wrong time, contractors have been adding up to 30 percent to construction costs.

The board reviewed "talking points," which outlines three aquatic center options from which voters can choose.

The first option includes a 4-foot deep pool and interactive water toys. The pool is geared towards providing a safe and fun place for younger children to swim. The option includes a pool deck, open lawn areas, parking and a bathhouse.

The cost for the first option is $3.2 million. The property tax levy for the facility would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $4.26 per month for the next 20 years.

Option 2 includes the amenities of option 1, but adds a water slide and a 25-meter outdoor swimming pool. Also included is a concession stand, picnic and playground areas. The cost of option 2 is about $5.2 million. The property tax levy for the facility would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $6.93 per month.

The third option would offer year-round swimming in Grandview. Besides all of the amenities of options 1 and 2, it adds an indoor swimming pool and indoor and outdoor hot tubs. A sand volleyball court and improvements to the existing tennis courts would also be made. In addition, the option provides a new multi-purpose building, which can be rented for parties and weddings. The third option also allows for a "partnership" facility that could be leased by merchants wanting to sell their products, such as coffee, crafts and Yakima Valley fruit.

The cost of the third option is $6.9 million, which would cost those owning a $100,000 home $9.07 a month.

"Options 1 and 3 are both extremes," said Dave Copeland, chairman of the service area board. "Option 1 doesn't even include a competitive tank."

He added that proponents are really pushing for option 2.

Copeland said also important is tacking down operation costs to run the pool. Since the pool will actually belong to the Grandview Parks and Recreation Service Area, the city wouldn't be required to help sustain the pool in lean years.

Although Option 2 is the one the service area board believes will make money, there are always weather factors and maintenance that could keep the pool from breaking even.

Sewell said the service area board may want to look at developing partnerships with the city, the county and the school district to see if there would be some way for the entities to help float the pool if it doesn't support itself. In surplus years the extra money could be put away for more lean years.

The service area board believes the pool will serve more than just the people of Grandview. With the closest aquatic centers in the Tri-Cities and Moses Lake, they believe they could draw customers from Yakima to Benton City. But even if people from outside the area don't use the facility, Sewell said a Council of Governments' study shows that 58,000 people live within eight miles of Grandview.

"A lot of it is in the rural areas," he said.

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