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Proposed aquatics center in Grandview may grow in size

GRANDVIEW - If the ballot measure for the proposed Grandview family aquatics center is passed by voters in May, swimmers may find themselves with an additional 25 meters of swimming area when the facility is finally constructed.

Tuesday night, members of the Grandview Parks and Recreation Services Area Board met to talk about the proposed facility and how things have begun to evolve since the community forum was held in February.

Board Chair Dave Copeland explained that since the community forum, the board has chosen to move forward with the project and pursue the second of three options that were presented to community members. The second option includes a zero-depth recreational pool, a 25-meter outdoor swimming pool and a concession stand, as well as picnic and playground areas. When presented to the public the board estimated that this option would likely cost about $5.2 million to construct.

Copeland said one of the changes that came from the public forum is instead of having the zero-depth pool and the 25-meter pool connected by a narrow waterway, the pools will now be completely separate.

"It's kind of a reconfiguration," Copeland said of the schematic being reviewed by board members last night.

Separating the two pools will allow the aquatic center to host swim meets in the 25-meter pool, while leaving the zero-depth pool open for patrons. Copeland explained that having two separate pool basins will also mean putting in two water systems, including pumps and filters.

The separation of the two pools, Copeland noted, will also allow for the creation of a grassy berm between the pools. He said this will serve as a nice place for seating during swim meets and other events.

Besides looking at an updated schematic of the project, board members also had a chance to review some of the costs that are going to be associated with constructing the family aquatics center.

According to the latest estimates, the construction of option two with a 25-meter pool will cost $5.5 million. Copeland explained that the $5.5 million figure includes things like design fees, permit costs, a contingency fund and demolition of the existing pool.

But the board also looked at another possible configuration of option two, which includes a 50-meter pool instead of the 25-meter pool. The cost estimate for an aquatics center with a 50-meter pool is $6.1 million.

Copeland told board members the idea of putting in a facility with a 50-meter pool came from the community forum. He said before the forum the board was talking about building an aquatics center with a 25-meter pool, which is smaller than the size of the current Grandview municipal swimming pool. He explained that following the forum, the board was talking about going out to bid for a facility with a 25-meter pool, but giving contractors the option of submitting a bid for a 50-meter option. Then if the bids came back favorable, the board could move forward with constructing an aquatics center with a 50-meter pool.

"But you could end up with a 25-meter pool," said Board member Tim Grow.

He cautioned that if the board decides that it wants a 50-meter pool it should go out to bid for an aquatics center with a 50-meter pool.

Board member Dan Churchill explained that having a 50-meter pool could help attract more swimming events to Grandview. He explained that as it stands now Toppenish ends up housing swim team Regionals because they have the most centrally located 50-meter pool.

Although the difference between pursuing an aquatics center with a 25-meter pool and a 50-meter pool is more than $580,000, it will likely mean an increase of less then 10¢ per $1,000 of assessed valuation over the cost of building an aquatics center with a 25-meter pool.

Board members estimated that constructing the facility with a 25-meter pool would likely cost property owners living within the Grandview School District boundaries a little more than 74¢ per $1,000 of assessed value. Board members made a rough estimate that raising the cost of the aquatics center project to $6.1 million to include the construction of a 50-meter pool would bring the cost to taxpayers to somewhere in the area of 80¢ to 81¢ per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

"If we're talking 7 or 8 cents, then let's do it," Churchill said.

Board members then talked about the current economic climate with Grow, who is himself a farmer, noting that the aquatics center is going to be a tough sell to farmers who are facing a drought. He added though, that as a percentage of voters, farmers are not the people the board has to convince to support the aquatics center when it makes the May ballot.

"The folks you need to convince are out there," Grow said, referring to the Grandview's general public.

Grow added that waiting to pursue the project would just mean paying more for the construction of the aquatics center in the future.

"It's never going to get to [cost] less, it's always going to get to be more," Grow said.

The board will have to make a decision on whether or not to pursue the 50-meter pool before April 1, which is when it will have to advise the Yakima County Auditor that it wants the issue placed on the May 17 ballot. City Administrator Jim Sewell told the board that if the measure is approved by voters the aquatics center will likely be built by next summer.

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