1/17/2018 Correction: The metropolitan parks district Bonney Lake voters did not approve ran in 2013, not 2009.
1/16/2017 Original Post: Many Bonney Lake residents have different ideas for how they want their city to grow — but many of them seem to agree they’d like their city to build a pool.
So during the upcoming Jan. 23 meeting, a group called “Save the Sumner-Bonney Lake Aquatics Program” will be giving the City Council a presentation about their vision of a city pool.
The city announced last year it’s looking at building a pool — most likely at the future Midtown Park, which the city plans to build in its portion of the WSU forest area along SR 410 — because the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District announced Feb. 2017 that the Sumner High School pool will soon be closed and demolished to make way for campus improvements.
In February 2016, voters approved a $162 million bond proposal to overhaul the high school. Due to the remodel, which includes adding extra floors to house more students, the school must have additional parking spaces per Sumner city code, and one of the potential areas the school can make additional parking space is where the pool sits.
But as the district pointed out during its original announcement of this plan, the pool is on its last legs anyway. Fixing the pool would be just as expensive as building a new one, so the district opted to not include funds for a new pool when asking voters to approve the 2016 bond measure.
“This has been a long, hard decision,” the district’s Chief Financial Officer Debbie Campbell said during a February 2017 interview. “We’ve kept it going as long as we possibly could.”
Campbell originally said the pool would most likely close around March 2018, the end of the 2017-18 swim season, but now the district has promised to keep the pool open through the 2018-19 season.
The news that the pool is closing concerned some parents, especially those of students on the Panthers and Spartans swim teams.
Emily Terrell, the leader of “Save the Sumner-Bonney Lake Aquatics Program” and the parent of a Spartan sophomore swimmer, was worried swim teams would have nowhere to practice between when the Sumner High School pool closed and the Bonney Lake city pool opened.
The presentation Terrell plans to give to the City Council is an attempt to persuade them to begin the planning process for Midtown Park and set a completion schedule, include a WCIAA-compliant swim and dive facility at that pool, and begin seeking funding for the Midtown Park and pool as soon as possible to lessen the amount of time student athletes have to go without a pool of their own.
Funding may be one of the larger issues Bonney Lake has to tackle.
Fortunately, the Sumner-Bonney Lake School Board passed a resolution last March, authorizing the district to enter in a financial agreement with the city, pledging $6.6 million for the construction of the pool.
It’s certainly a start, but not enough money to fully fund pool construction, and it’s possible Bonney Lake will have to turn to the voters and ask them to approve a bond measure for additional funds.
Voters turned down a similar bond proposal for a metropolitan parks district in 2013, but Terrell believes circumstances have shifted, and voters will approve a new bond measure for a city pool.
“Times have changed. The economy is in a different place. We have a project list, at least the beginnings of one for the Midtown Park,” Terrell wrote to the city, adding more than 1,000 people signed a petition to keep the Sumner High School pool open when its closing was first announced. “Alumni of the District Aquatics Program living all over the country signed in to show their support. There is a huge groundswell of support, and not just from the current members of the swimming and dive teams.”
Johnson said further council discussion about parks in general will happen during the council’s retreat on Jan. 20, but more specific discussions about the pool will probably happen at a later workshop date.
“I have had an Ad-hoc committee discussing the Midtown Park master plan which has included discussions regarding a pool during the last two meetings I had around August/September,” Johnson said. “We haven’t reconvened yet this year, but I anticipate us getting together again to keep discussing after this presentation and some direction from council.
“My goal is to find a solution for both long term and short term as it relates to the pool. My ad hoc has discussed the possibility of doing a ‘temporary’ pool where we have an above ground pool that meets the districts needs with a basic building structure that we could use until a final plan is made for a permanent recreation center and pool,” he added. “Still early in the process, but I am happy to see folks wanting to make things happen.”