Public input sought at Oct. 14 meeting
Friends of the Pool, the nonprofit organization that is developing a plan to replace the aging Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp, has been awarded a grant that will finance a study of alternatives and possible financing for a new, year-round swimming facility.
As part of that process, which Friends of the Pool is calling “The Big Splash,” the public is invited to an information and feedback session on Oct. 14 at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp, starting at 7 p.m. The meeting can also be attended via the Friends of the Pool website, www.foptwisp.org.
Friend of the Pool recently was awarded a gift from an anonymous fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, according to a press release. The Philadelphia Foundation supports community-based philanthropic causes, the release said.
The grant funds will be used to conduct a feasibility study that will be prepared by Ballard*King, a recreation consulting and planning firm from Colorado. Ballard*King will coordinate outreach, collecting input, market analysis, operational analysis, site selection, design concepts, and narrowing down feasible options for a year-round pool and recreation facility best-suited to the Methow Valley, according to the release.
Friends of the Pool said that “The new facility will ideally include both indoor and outdoor swimming, as well as recreational spaces for exercise.”
“Ballard*King has put together a stellar team of pool designers, architects, cost estimators, and policy consultants to help the valley scope viable options. The feasibility study will start in September 2021 and be completed by May 31, 2022,” Friends of the Pool said.
“Our aging community, growing families, and active population will benefit from a covered facility during all seasons, and Friends of the Pool hopes a hybrid option will be shown to be feasible to allow outdoor fun in the sun to continue,” the organization said.
Rec district potential
The feasibility study will include exploring options for long-term revenue sources, including user fees and levies. ECONorthwest, a finance, policy and planning firm, will assist in a recreation district analysis, Friends of the Pool said.
“With the inclusion of a year-round option, and additional recreational space like workout facilities, the facility will serve the entire Methow Valley, including visitors, and long-term operational revenue needs to be assessed and made more secure,” Friends of the Pool said. “One way to do this is to create a recreation district that can assess a valley-wide levy. This study will help analyze the options from different levy amounts and fee structures to strike the right balance between user-based revenue and tax revenue.”
The Friends of the Pool board will serve as the project team, working with the Town of Twisp representatives and other stakeholders from the broader community at different stages of the feasibility study, the organization said.
The Wagner Memorial Pool is currently owned and operated by the Town of Twisp, across from the town park. It has been heavily used as a valley-wide resource and as the training and competition facility for the Methow Valley Killer Whales swim team. The Friends of the Pool press release seems to indicate that the current site will not be the only potential location under consideration.
The pool, which was closed during the summer of 2020, reopened this year on June 19. After a little more than a month of operation, the pool closed for the summer because of unhealthy conditions caused by wildfire smoke.
The pool’s operation this year was made possible by contributions from Friends of the Pool, which raised donated funds in the community to supplement operational funds in the town’s budget.
Friends of the Pool has for the past couple of years been working on strategies for funding and building a new facility to replace the Wagner Pool. The pool, which opened in 1967, is more than 50 years old and has required substantial repairs the past few years. Friends of the Pool has raised a substantial amount of money over the years – estimated at about $400,000 – for repairs and operational expenses. Recent repairs, however, have been short-term solutions to keeping the pool operational one season at a time.