New Walla Walla pool plan to be floated past Council

The proposal would increase the property tax levy by 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

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A design concept for the Walla Walla aquatic center.

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The filtration system at Memorial Pool is rusted and leaking.

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The heater for the pool is seen at the time the facility was closed.

WALLA WALLA - A proposed aquatics park with two slides, a children's pool and play structure, a wave pool, a splash pad and a lazy river will be discussed at Monday's City Council work session.

Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dumont will present the $8.07 million plan that could end up being decided by voters in the latter part of next year.

A key component to the proposal, Dumont said, is to build a park with a large enough capacity to be able to operate in the black.

To build a facility that will generate enough revenue to operate and maintain itself, the facility has to be large enough and designed to attract 400 users per day.

"We are projecting a head count that will be 59 percent greater than Pendleton's, and we have a 125 percent greater population to draw from," Dumont said, noting the daily average of 400 is a safe figure that would provide a profit each year.

To keep the park profitable, the design also has to leave out old standards that are costly to maintain and serve small populations, which means no 25- or 50-meter lap pool.

"It doesn't pencil out. The problem is you don't have enough capacity," Dumont said, noting that a 50-meter lap pool can accommodate 225 recreation swimmers, and far less when lap swimming is taking place.

Just the wave pool, he noted, can accommodate up to 495 users; the total capacity of the proposed aquatic park would be 890.

As for the money to build the facility, Dumont said that is up to City Council to decide.

His plan is for City Council to ask voters to pass a nine-year property tax levy increase of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for city residents; the owner of a $150,000 home would pay an additional $75 a year in property taxes.

The levy would raise $7 million; he is certain he can get donations for the remaining amount.

Similar aquatic park bond measures failed to gain a 60 percent super majority in 2003 and 2006; a levy tax increase, however, would require only a simple majority.

Levy increases can be voted on in either the August primary or November general election.

Dumont's presentation is open to the public and will take place at City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave., at 4 p.m.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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