A Pasco facilities board believes an aquatic center with a gymnasium, elevated walking track and aerobics studio may be the most attractive option and bring in the most dollars.
After spending a month reviewing three options for a proposed facility, the Pasco Public Facilities District board decided to combine some alternatives in the hope of coming up with an option to pique the public’s interest.
But it doesn’t mean an aquatic and recreation facility — long desired by some for the greater Mid-Columbia area — will become a reality anytime soon.
Officials say they’re still on a fact-finding mission, and a lot of steps need to be taken before the issue could get on a ballot.
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“At this point, all we’re trying to do is put something before the public that makes sense,” said Stan Strebel, Pasco’s deputy city manager.
The board last week asked its consultants to prepare a final concept plan with the revisions known as “Option D.”
Ballard*King & Associates, along with Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, already have drawn up a plan that includes: outdoor aquatics; a 4,000-square-foot indoor leisure/program pool; a wet classroom; and aquatics support.
Those features were in the original Option A before the board.
What board members have culled to keep from Options B and C are: a multipurpose studio with room for 16-20 people; a weight and fitness area; the track; a middle school-sized gym; and a child watch/babysitting space.
The idea of community meeting rooms was stricken from the options list because the board did not see a strong need given the number of other available venues throughout the Tri-Cities.
(T)he council needs to decide whether this concept of tying potentially these two facilities together makes sense, or if they should stand alone, or one should go before the other.
Stan Strebel, Pasco deputy city manager
Once the final concept is completed, the PFD board will present the $24.2 million project at public hearings in the fall to gauge reaction and support.
Meeting dates have not yet been set.
Strebel said the board wants the public’s input on that particular mix of spaces and facilities and the related costs.
“The option provides, in the judgment of the board, a good mix of recreational opportunities, in response to perceived community needs, balanced with strong revenue generation potential,” Strebel said in a memo.
The issue also is being discussed by the Pasco Parks & Recreation Advisory Council. That board meets Aug. 30 and has been asked to provide direction to the facilities district.
The aquatics center would be a tax-subsidized public facility.
Three years ago, a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax increase failed because many voters in Kennewick and Richland opposed it. Pasco voters supported the 2013 ballot measure but they didn’t have enough votes to pass it.
In that effort, the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District was looking to build an aquatics facility and water park on 13 acres in west Pasco. The land, development, construction and equipment were expected to cost about $36 million.
A site has not been picked for this proposed facility. There could be additional costs depending on the location.
On this proposed project, the Pasco Public Facilities District’s bonding capacity without a public vote is $20 million. That’s why the board is cautious about going too far over that number with the final plan.
“It’s fair to say (the board members have) interest in seeing how far this can go toward a public vote,” Strebel said.
“Obviously there needs to be some discussion with the city council because it’s ultimately their decision,” he added. “And the council needs to decide whether this concept of tying potentially these two facilities together makes sense, or if they should stand alone, or one should go before the other.”