How many times have you said to yourself, “Gee, I really wish our area had a public pool…”? Residents of both Olympia and Tumwater have been saying it for at least the past 30 years. From a failed bond measure in Olympia in 1990, to renewed interest via public surveys and engagement opportunities in both communities since the early 2000s, it’s definitely been on the public’s minds. Now’s your chance to say it again, but this time things are different.
In 2018, the City of Olympia set aside funding to conduct an Aquatic Facility Feasibility Study. In that same year, Tumwater voters approved the creation of the Tumwater Metropolitan Park District, so the water wheel has been generating power toward the possible creation of a regional Aquatic Facility ever since.
The City of Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department, along with their primary partner (so far), the City of Tumwater, and a cadre of other organizations and stakeholders have been taking the first steps in identifying if, and how, a regional Aquatic Center might come to life.
But, in order for the project to go swimmingly, they need to hear from you!
As part of the Feasibility Study, Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation is asking for public input. They’ve created a survey that Paul Simmons, the Department’s director, says will help determine “If this is something we want to pursue, and if so, who our possible partners might be, and what the scale and scope of the something is.”
This is a regional effort looking for regional input. Recognizing the need for public swimming facilities goes way beyond Olympia and the cities of Olympia and Tumwater have joined with several other regional partners in this endeavor, soliciting feedback from all parts of our region.
In addition to Tumwater’s enthusiastic support, representatives from many other public and private stakeholders have been involved in preliminary discussions around the creation of a facility that would, no doubt, have a ripple effect on our community.
The Port of Olympia, South Sound YMCA, City of Lacey, The Evergreen State College, Olympia Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, PARC Foundation of Thurston County, Thurston EDC, Experience Olympia & Beyond, have all expressed interest, in addition to local school districts, interested citizens, swim clubs and countless others.
Potential partners haven’t identified their level of involvement at this point. It is likely there will be both equity partners and programmatic partnerships.
“Neither Olympia nor any of our adjacent jurisdictions have a municipal swimming facility, says Simmons. “In a random sample survey conducted for the 2016 Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Plan, swimming facilities were named as the highest recreation facility needed that currently isn’t available.”
“A swimming facility has been identified as a top priority for our community in every recreation survey we’ve done for the last 20 years,” adds Chuck Denney, Tumwater Parks and Recreation’s director.
A planning process is currently underway, and the City of Olympia has hired a consulting team led by Barker Rinker Seacat (BRS), an architectural firm based out of Denver, Colorado, to complete the feasibility study.
Phase I involves determining if the project is feasible. The size, scope and potential partners will also be identified in the first phase. The City says they anticipate an analysis for annual operating costs and revenue potential as part of the scope of this study.
What needs to be determined by the community is what type of aquatic facility they are looking for. The survey poses questions about the type of facility desired; competitive versus recreational, indoor versus outdoor, or one larger regional facility versus multiple smaller facilities.
Project information can be found at the Engage Olympia website, and this first survey will be open until November 22, 2020. “We often hear from members of the public who express frustration about the lack of a public swimming facility,” Simmons says. “This is the time for people to share their thoughts, hopes, dreams, and opinions on the topic.”
Ready to dip your toe in the water, too? Dive in to take the survey!
And if you’d like to continue to make sure your outside voice gets heard, hop over to the Parks, Arts & Recreation Plan project page to participate in the long-range parks planning process that began last month. Share your ideas for the future of Olympia parks.