Pool discussions are heating up as the city of Port Townsend considers four possible sites to house its planned aquatics and wellness center. Termed the Healthier Together Aquatics Center, the city …
Pool discussions are heating up as the city of Port Townsend considers four possible sites to house its planned aquatics and wellness center. Termed the Healthier Together Aquatics Center, the city is eyeing four potential spots: a parcel owned by Jefferson Healthcare, the Port Townsend Golf Course, the city’s Evans Vista property, and the Mountain View Commons.
Consultant Jim Kalvelage of Opsis Architecture briefed the Port Townsend City Council on the sites at a council meeting earlier in March, sharing the firm’s vision and goals for the project.
“We’re looking at four sites, all publicly owned,” Kalvelage said. “They’re the Mountain View site, some location perhaps at the golf course, the Jefferson Healthcare site, and Evans Vista.”
Each of the four locations were evaluated based upon development capacity, economic viability, community support, regulatory approval, and whether the site supports diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Among the criteria for selecting a site was, “trying to figure out a site that is already publicly owned, so we don’t incur any land acquisition costs,” Parks Director Carrie Hite said during the meeting.
Evans Vista, a 14-acre parcel of land south of the Rainier Street and West Sims Way roundabout, is the planned site for an affordable housing development, and the pool and wellness center could be included on the campus.
The city’s consultants listed proximity to compatible amenities, ability for usage from south Jefferson County residents, ability to enhance the housing project, building and parking accommodation, low chances for controversy, minimal impact to pool operations, and site timing as positives for placing the facility in Evans Vista. Potential cons listed for the Evans Vista option include lack of prominent frontage and visibility; cost recovery potential; and access to bus and bikes routes. An analysis indicates the Healthier Together Aquatics Center would be situated south of the Evans Vista roadway entrance south of the roundabout.
Another potential landing spot for the wellness center is a .74-acre plot of land south of Jefferson Healthcare Medical Center and adjacent to Manresa Castle.
Listed pros for the spot include prominent frontage and visibility; proximity to compatible amenities; cost recovery potential; low chance for controversy; minimal impact on pool operations; and timing of the site decision. The downsides of the site city staff highlighted were lack of ability to accommodate the building and parking; lack of support for south Jefferson County participation; and access to bus routes and bike routes. A consultant’s illustration shows the building would be set up to face West Sims Way with parking spots set up to the north of the facility.
GOLF COURSE CORNER
Among the four possible pool sites is the Port Townsend Golf Course. Currently, the city is deciding what future use or uses the course will have, and one potential usage of the 58 acres of land could be to house the Healthier Together Aquatics Center.
While the city councilmembers were advised to steer clear of potentially selecting the golf course as the site, some highlighted the valuable amenities and ample space of the 58-acre plot.
“There’s just lots of different options and perhaps controversy centered around the golf course,” Kalvelage said of ongoing discussions on future use of the golf course. “We want this to be a positive site selection, not one that has perhaps other considerations that limit public support.”
“I’m going to kick that elephant and say, I look at the problems we’re having with the three other sites where you’re basically trying to shoehorn something in that doesn’t really fit in the space,” Councilmember Libby Urner Wennstrom said.
“The Mountain View site could work but literally across the street, it would just take a tiny corner of the golf course space,” she added.
“Maybe it’s that corner, maybe it’s saying ‘OK we’re not going to have driving range anymore.’”
“Are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater because we don’t want to ever have any controversy?” Urner Wennstrom added.
Councilmember Monica MickHager agreed, adding, “I don’t think we should be afraid of it, and it’s such a choice corner.”
Adding in support for using the golf course site was Mayor David Faber.
“I do have to say the golf course location does seem like the No. 1 best spot,” Faber said. “A few loud people in the room do not represent the community at large, and we have to make sometimes hard decisions and court controversy to do good things for our community.”
Perks of using the golf course land include space to accommodate the facility and its parking lot; prominent frontage and visibility; cost recovery potential; proximity to compatible amenities; access to bus and bike routes; and minimal impacts to pool operations. Cons listed by the city’s consultant include the site-decision timing; potential for controversy; impacts on the golf course’s layout; and lack of south Jefferson County participation.
The pool facility would be set up in the southwest corner of the golf course, taking up land now used by Hole 5 and Hole 6 of the nine-hole course, as well as the driving range.
The final option for the city would be utilizing the Mountain View Commons site, which currently hosts the Mountain View Pool. Positives listed by the city for using this 3.9-acre site include accommodation for the facility and parking; prominent frontage and visibility; proximity to compatible amenities; access to bike routes and bus routes; site decision timing;
cost recovery potential; minimal controversy; and minimized impacts to pool operations. Cons of using the Mountain View Commons are the lack of support for south Jefferson County participation and the need to relocate the ReCyclery and the dog park located on the property.
A site analysis shows the Healthier Together Aquatics Center would be located where Mountain View Pool’s currently parking lot is situated, and the new parking would be set up where the current pool is housed.
FINANCING, SITE SELECTION
After the city conducted two open houses last week — one in-person and one online meeting — Hite shared preliminary details on the finance aspect of the project.
“We’re in the process of that, exploring financing,” Hite said. “It’s a big puzzle.”
Two mechanisms of that financial puzzle the municipality is considering are whether to pursue local funding from a bond or by setting up a parks district.
While prior pool-building efforts over the past 20 years attempted to gain local funding from a bond vote, the city will likely establish a parks district, or junior taxing district, Hite said.
Planners are aiming to fund the pool from multiple fronts, whether it’s state and federal grants, private philanthropy, or via the bond or parks district approach. The city has been working with Opsis Architecture to find a happy medium between community-supported pool amenities and cost-saving measures.
The architecture firm, “has been working to balance out the facility with return on investment,” Hite said. “We’re trying to keep our eyes open on this and figuring out the best design.”
Following public feedback, the city is likely to select the Mountain View Pool site for the new facility.
“There really is a lot of support and interest in the local pool at the Mountain View site. People seem to tolerate and want the pool at the current site,” Hite said. “As far as amenities, the cold water and warm water pool scored evenly across the board.”
One consequence of choosing the Mountain View Pool property will be the anticipated removal of the dog park, located on the west end of the site.
“That’s one of things we’d have to figure out, the city certainly knows the value of the dog park to the community,” Hite said.
If Mountain View is selected, the city plans to relocate the dog park, she added.
Over the past two decades, the city has made a half-dozen attempts to build a new pool and wellness center, but failed.
“You have all these local entities at the table talking and wanting to listen to each other. It’s a very heavy lift, and it’s going to take all of us to lift together,” Hite said. “It’s not only those entities, it’s other CEOs and presidents, big visionary folks that live and work in the community working together and planning together.”
“That’s what’s going to get us across the finish line.”
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Very conspicuously missing from this article: the poll results from BOTH the public Open House on March 14, and the online open house a couple of days later. How does the LEADER not report these results?
The results were:
March 14, 88 attendees; 61 preferring Mountain View; 21 preferring Golf Course
March 16, 87.5% preferring Mountain View; 12.5% preferring Golf Course
If the City hosts events like this, attendance is high, and then ignores or overrides the overwhelming sentiment, why bother with open houses and polling? It creates an appearance of a pre-determined outcome.
Additionally, the Strategic Partnership group of 19 citizens selected by the City's consultant, which has met more than six times since early fall, suddenly has no additional meetings scheduled until May. We (I am part of that group) have been faithful to and engaged with the process and one wonders why the process seems suspended at a critical juncture.
If the City--our electeds--want citizen participation, they had best be listening to engaged citizens who show up when the City hosts public meetings.
Wednesday, March 29 Report this
I think it's important context that the comments from council members quoted here were made before the open houses, and they didn't have the feedback from the community yet from those open houses. It is very important that we fully absorb all the public input before making decisions on something that will affect this community for generations. I have no doubt my fellow councilors would agree.
Wednesday, March 29 Report this
Swim in Kah Tai Lagoon, like the rest of us.
Thursday, March 30 Report this
Why did Mayor Faber have to go and say that?? 'A few loud voices in the room ....'???
The community gets encouraged to 'show up', 'speak up', participate, 'voice your opinion' and some of us actually have been doing that - for the most part respectfully and with grace.
Calling those of us who have spoken up as 'a few loud voices in the room' is a bit insulting.
The few 'loud voices' in the room may not represent 'the community at large', but, neither do a couple of council members and Mr. Faber.
The survey poll the consultants did with over 600 responses - with over 85% of the responses by the 'community at large' presented a good representation! That's a bit more than 'a few loud voices in the room'.
Also, the 'con' listed for the Evan's VIsta site of 'not being near a bicycle trail' is simply WRONG. It's just about ON the bicycle trail! It's perfectly positioned for ultimate access for both the City (7 minute ride from the Port) and the County chjldren and families.
Thursday, March 30 Report this