Friday, February 20, 2009

Options Floated for Washington Park Pool

UPDATED: This post is originally from 12/3/08 when it was presented in a Council Briefing. The promise then was for a public input meeting. Evelyn Bethel and sister were on a commission to study Washington Park and were not consulted for this idea and made an issue of it. I think this was a campaign promise too as I recall. Neither of them were for a “water park” because as described it would be designed to pull in visitors from the entire region. Therefore it would cease being a community/neighborhood pool/park. To make it cost efficient it needed to be regional per Steve Boucher. Both Washington Park and Fallon Park pools were on the chopping block at Council’s budget work session on Friday the 13th. Though Council backed off of closing both public pools – they are not off the table as Burcham said (and true) they both leak and need repair. So my guess is that this is to fulfill the promise for an input meeting. Repairs to the pool maybe but the aquatic center at Fallon should be held in these economic times. Also on the list of budget cutting options was pushing out the funding of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan at $7 million over 5 years. Why they are having this I don’t know.
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12/3/08 Council Briefing: A water park estimated at a cost of $2.6 million swirled as Steve Buschor, Director of Parks and Recreation conducted the Washington Park Pool Facility Presentation at the Roanoke City Council briefing Monday morning.
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According to Buschor, the goal is for the 37 year old Washington Park pool to become a family-oriented outdoor aquatic destination. The current pool would be converted into a zero-depth leisure pool with fitness lap lanes, a lily pad walk, a circulating river, waterfalls, slides, spray features, interactive play structure, and a rock-climbing wall on the outside edge of the pool. The plan was endorsed by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the special park site plan committee.
The first option would be repair of the existing pool with no functional improvements or recreational additions at a cost of $590 thousand.

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The second option would be to renovate the existing pool and incorporate additional recreation amenities at a cost of $1.9 million.
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The third option replaces the community pool with a “regional” aquatic facility. Attendance was projected at over 50,600 in the first year. Seasonal passes would be offered and the cost per person would rise one dollar. In years 2011-2012 the project would be at least revenue neutral. The City currently subsidizes the pools at $110 thousand annually per Buschor. Brian Townsend, Assistant Manager for Community Development said, “option three is creating a water amenity similar to a water theme park like Bush Gardens … something not found elsewhere in this region.”
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Council members Court Rosen and Dave Trinkle asked if Economic Development had been consulted to arrive at the attendance estimate. Buschor said he wants to wait until Council gives further direction but believed the consultant’s estimate was accurate. Trinkle then asked if anyone had ever used the pool for competition. Townsend replied that to have a US sanctioned competition another lane would have to be added.
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Councilwoman Anita Price had “serious reservations” and asked what type of community input there had been. Buschor said, “he had been talking with the Washington Park folks since 2002.” Buschor was interrupted by Evelyn Bethel, a Gainsboro resident, who said “we don’t know anything about this.“ Evelyn Bethel informed Council members later at the 2:00 PM Council meeting that they had been part of committee formed by the City Manager in 2002 to address Washington Park. The City Manager was not at the Council meeting. According to Bethel she was denied the opportunity to give a presentation following completion of the committee‘s assessment. Mayor Bowers instructed City administration to communication with the previous Washington Park committee.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community

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