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City takes aquatic park for another lap

Survey will gauge appeal of outdoor pool


by: SUBMITTED - The city is envisioning a destination pool similar to Portlands Wilson Outoor Pool, complete with slides and a lazy river.The city is once again testing the water to gauge the community’s interest in building a pool — an idea that has been tossed around since the 1970s.

This time around, instead of a full-on community center complete with a workout facility and competition pool, the city is simplifying the plan to start with just an outdoor destination pool at a drastically lower cost.

At the end of this month the city will be rolling out a telephone and online survey conducted by CFM Strategic Communications Inc. to see if there is community support to put a pool on the November ballot.

The city is considering an outdoor pool complete with slides, a lazy river, zero-depth entry, open swim area and play area along with a large patio. The estimated cost is $9 million, which equates to about $57 a year for the average home ($285,000) in West Linn.

The original proposal was an indoor facility including a pool with slides, splash pools, three lap lanes, lazy river and vortex along with an indoor sport court, elevated running track, fitness center and other amenities at the cost of about $24 million, or $152 a year for the average home.

The city already owns property earmarked for the facility — 7.5 acres off Parker Road, near Tanner Creek Park.

According to a Feb. 11 update from the Aquatic Task Force, “We feel that the original proposal for 2012 is still the ideal for the community. However, at $24 (million), the cost is too high for voter support.”

Task force member Vicki Handy said that after many focus groups and meetings, there is still strong support for a pool, but the price tag is the obstacle.

With the new proposal, the outdoor pool could be designed and built for future expansion, including enclosing the pool and adding a competition pool and a community center with workout facilities and community rooms.

“Ideally, we’d love the recreation center,” Handy said. “It’s taken decades to get to this point. I want to set this up for success.”

“This just seems like an option that gets us going in that direction,” task force member Nancy King said.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester, the outdoor pool could generate about $35,000 annually for the city and would operate only during the summer months. However, other models considered would run at a deficit of up to $750,000 due to the costs associated with heating the pools and managing the air quality of the building.

“We’ve really, really tried to listen to all the people. We are really trying to do the right thing for our citizens and listen to the larger community,” Handy said.

“It would be a great success getting a pool for the city,” King said.

Worcester said the pool could be a driver for economic development in the city, bringing in more money and visitors to West Linn.

“We’re not trying to build it for the region, but we know if we build it, people in the region will use it,” Worcester said.

“Number one, this is to serve West Linn and its kids. We’re a city of rivers and there’s not a place to take your kid swimming,” Handy said.

The task force is expected to report to the city council May 6 with the results of the survey and to make a recommendation whether or not to proceed with a ballot measure. The council would need to decide on the issue by the end of July to allow time for campaigning.

If the community survey shows support for an outdoor pool and voters approve it this November, the pool could be open to swimmers in 2015.

“We think we can actually get kids wet in 18 months. We think we could do this fairly quickly,” Worcester said.

For more information about the proposal, visit westlinnoregon.gov/aquatic-community-center/2013-aquatic-task-force-updated-recommendation-city-council.

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