Recreation rules have been relaxed in King County, but that doesn’t mean the Enumclaw Aquatic Center will soon open for business.
Largely due to a summertime improvement project – a planned effort already intended to keep the facility closed for an extended period – a decision was made to keep the city-owned pool shuttered until September.
Michelle Larson, who heads Enumclaw’s Parks and Recreation Department, initially believed King County would have to enter Phase 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan before the pool doors could open. But Phase 1.5 was launched earlier this month, allowing the pool to open with limitations.
“This excited us,” Larson wrote in a message posted to the city website. “We immediately thought of swim teams, lap swim, water exercise and private swim lessons.”
Options were pondered, she said, as staff looked at the feasibility of getting pool operations up and running. But, in the end, the decision was made to keep things closed through the summer season.
Larson explained that the pool already had a renovation project scheduled to begin next month.
“After careful consideration of the requirements for opening, we felt that it would be difficult to do so, to just turn around and have to close again in July,” Larson posted.
To open for just a short time, she said, her department would have to hire staff and see that lifeguard training was up-to-date. Aside from that, there are costs associated with getting the pool heated. Then, prior to the beginning of the July work, the pool would need to be drained.
The good news, Larson reported, is pool users will see some “major improvements” when September rolls around. Plans call for resurfacing the entire pool deck, plastering the pool liner and adding in-pool lighting, a new diving board and a climbing wall. Also, there will be improvements that will make pool lifts compliant with Americans With Disabilities Act regulations. Adjacent to the pool, repairs will be made to the spectator area.
All pool improvements were joined together so they could be handled by a single general contractor. Bids have been opened and a contract was awarded during the June 22 meeting of the Enumclaw City Council. Larson said the low bid came in at $634,874 for the interior upgrades. Much of the cost is being paid by outside sources: the state has contributed $252,840 and King County has put up $125,000. The remainder is included in the city budget, specifically coming from the Real Estate Excise Tax fund.
The ongoing closure has impacted thousands of pool customers. Larson ran a report for July and August of last year, which showed 2,200 entries by 296 individual users. That was on top of nearly 600 who took swim lessons; also, there were pool guests who showed up for special events, turned out for Rainier Foothills Swim Team or dropped in for open, public swim.
Another group that could be impacted are Enumclaw High School’s fall sports programs that call the pool home. Both the boys’ water polo team and girls’ swim team practice at the Enumclaw pool and host their home meets there. Their turnouts are slated to begin Aug. 24 but there’s a possibility they will be pushed back to early September.
Either way, it’s likely the pool will not be ready when Hornet athletes are allowed to turn out. Larson said the contract with the general contractor calls for pool improvements to be finished by Sept. 18.