Saturday, November 14, 2009

Washington Park pool makeover taken down a notch



Nov. 16 Update: The ordinance passed unanimously to allocate the $1.9 million on Option 2 renovation for Washington Park Pool.

Nov. 14: The grandiose “regional” aquatic pool makeover for Washington Park has been scaled back to the lesser of three options. Steve Boucher, Director of Parks and Recreation made a third pitch at a council briefing on November 2 for the most expansive and expensive of the three options.

The Director of Finance Ann Shawver needed a decision on how to proceed in the allocation of funds for the project.

Monday’s 2:00 PM council agenda contains an allocation of $1.9 million for Washington Park pool improvements. These funds are a part of the CIP planned bond issuance that Council passed on September 21 in a 5-2 vote.

 The $1.9 million for Washington Park pool and $1.5 million for improvements to Countryside Golf Course were held as part of the Parks and Recreation Fund until allocated for these projects.

Community says the most extensive remodeling option “is over the top”

What $1.9 million will do for Washington Park Pool

Pictured is an example of option 2 that the council gave the unofficial nod at the November 2 briefing. Evelyn Bethel and Helen Davis pushed for a community meeting that was held on September 24.

Though Boucher argued that a regional aquatic center would make the facility revenue neutral and would even bring in additional revenue – the community felt differently. In short they feared losing a “community” facility to a for-profit regional aquatics center. The community confirmed this with a unanimous “over the top” message on option 3.

Councilman Court Rosen was skeptical about the $9000 year projected maintenance costs saying he talked to the county’s recreation director who said that “it was so far off that they laughed at the $9,000 a year figure.”

Shawver reminded council that “option 3 used the largest chunk carved out of the CIP this year … it is a good thing in that the total overall outlay is lower under that [2] option.” The dollars for debt service is reduced with option 2 explained Shawver.

City Manager Darlene Burcham explained to Rosen that there is a separate Facility Maintenance Account that is drawn from for all the city’s facilities. Burcham admitted the fund had not been sufficient in the past but is being built up for ongoing future facility maintenance needs.

Rosen insisted that was not adequate and that the pool maintenance should be in the Parks and Recreation Fund.

The facility will still be impressive with a 5400 sq. ft. L-shaped Lap Pool and six 25 yard swimming lanes. It will have a drop slide, climbing wall, diving board, zero depth entry leisure pool, interactive play structures and water sprayground.

The cost savings between the third and second option is about $700,000 with a corresponding reduction for expenses.

Related articles:

Options Floated for Washington Park Pool

Council Shakes the Magic 8-Ball for Capital Improvement Project Priorities

Fallon Park community recreation facility options sink under heavy subsidy

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Finance, Roanoke City Politics

Tags: , , , , , ,


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