Residents offer ideas for proposed west Pasco aquatics center

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMarch 13, 2013 

Duncan Nisbett is a theme park and water park aficionado. The Pasco man especially likes the sprawling Water World in Denver, Colo.

"To be able to have something that's even a portion of that in the Tri-Cities would be huge for bringing new revenue (to the area)," he said.

Nisbett has high hopes for the proposed regional aquatics center in west Pasco, and was one of about 40 people who came Wednesday night to a workshop aimed at gathering public input on the design and amenities.

Doug Whiteaker, president of the international design firm Water Technology Inc., or WTI, led the 11/2 hour session. The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District board, which is developing the aquatics center proposal, picked the Wisconsin-based firm to put together a conceptual site plan.

Nisbett said a lazy river could be a hugely popular feature.

Also, "the speed slides, if they do it right, they could be a huge attraction, especially for anyone that wants that adrenaline rush," he said.

Nisbett said tube slides, an interactive play structure and a competition pool also caught his eye. Whiteaker passed out a list of more than 40 amenities and asked those at the meeting to pick their top eight choices and rank them. The list included everything from competition and wave pools to a lagoon, a lazy river, interactive light fountains, underwater benches, multi-person intertube slides, surf machine, waterfalls and a climbing wall.

Meric Dubose from Pasco has a 12-year-old daughter who is part of Tri-City Channel Cats and said there's a clear need for a competition pool. Dubose's 10-year-old son came along to the meeting and had a less practical wish list. At the top? Robo-dolphins, or animatronic dolphins that would swim with aquatics center-goers.

Whiteaker said his firm will review the input from the public workshop; it's scheduled to make a recommendation about amenities to the regional board in April.

The aquatics center with indoor and outdoor features is planned for land off Sandifur Parkway. It's contingent on voters in Kennewick, Pasco and Richland approving a one-tenth of 1 percent sales-tax increase to foot the bill.

The regional board hasn't decided whether to run the measure in the August or November elections, but is leaning toward the summer ballot.

Matt Watkins, president of the regional board and Pasco's mayor, said he was pleased with Wednesday's session. He expects the aquatics center proposal to include signature features that will make the place a draw regionally, he said.

Nisbett said he's excited. He has fond memories of the Oasis water park in Kennewick that's now closed, and "to rekindle those memories with my kids would be awesome," the father of three told the Herald.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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