Aquatic center is quality of life issue

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I love this quote from President Ronald Reagan. "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

This distrust in our public officials is arguable, but I believe the City Council has done its homework in passing the resolution to place the levy for an aquatic center on the city ballot. We can argue the merits of an $8.7 million water park, which is being reduced by a $1 million donation from three private parties and pledges of over $25,000 of scholarship funds, but there are other disagreements.

So let's discuss points of disagreement:

  1. Why a levy?

We have always been transparent about a levy and the merits it provides. It can be run for nine years rather than 30 years, which is what a bond would be and save $2 million in interest expense, as we are now seeing the lowest interest rates in our lifetime. It can be passed by 50 percent plus one, similar to presidential elections.

  1. Is the project self sustaining?

The pro forma has been checked and double checked by the City Council, endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and several outside sources. Using Pendleton's attendance as a comparable. Our service area is over twice as large as Pendleton's, yet we're only increasing our attendance numbers by 60 percent, which we feel is conservative. We built in a significant reserve for maintenance and unforeseen occurrences. This facility will also provide up to 50 summer jobs for local youths.

  1. Why so big? Why not just put a nice pool like we had in the old days?

In order to get enough people visiting, we need to make it an attraction so admission fees will sustain it. A pool won't support itself. Our plan allows for separate areas for all ages. There is a children's area, a 'tween and teen area, plus areas for exercise and swim lessons. Not enough people will come and pay to swim laps to support a stand-alone pool. We will provide four 25-yard lanes for lap swimming at designated times.

This is a quality of life issue. I believe it shows our city is a place where people care about our kids and families, and where we will step up in support of the aquatic center. This is the way it has been, and what we hope continues in the future.

Let's build this aquatic center now!

Jim McCarthy

Walla Walla

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