Parks makes stronger commitment on pool expansion

Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District commissioners recently decided not to be wishy washy regarding the $10 million bond it hopes to pass Aug. 6 for improvements at Ray Williamson Pool.

The board passed a resolution that says if the bond is approved the intent is to expand the pool to eight lanes and create an even depth of 6.5 feet so long as it’s financially feasible.

Acting executive director Dan Hamlin said that there were questions from staff and the public about the intent of the renovation because of the “flexibility” of the original motion.

Prior to the change, Commissioner Jay Kinney said if the bond passes, he would interpret that to mean the public wants the district to add two lanes if it is possible. If the project ends up costing significantly more than $10 million it may not be possible.

Commissioner Ken DeWitt said that one of the reasons the bond issue was worded that way was due to the rush to get this project permitted under the International Building Code in effect as of March 15. He joined the board right after the bond issue for the Don Nakata Pool was passed years ago. The estimates were way below the actual cost, and he is concerned about a circumstance like that.

Commissioner Tom Goodlin said the resolution was written so as not to bind the agency in case the situation evolved making it difficult for the agency to follow through.

Despite those comments, they voted for the new resolution.

Commissioner Dawn Janow did not. She said she voted for the original one because of the flexibility.

Also, Joy Archer said that over the last several weeks many people came forward to show support for expanding the pool, and now the campaign committee needs clarification of the intention of the bond to support its efforts to fundraise for the project.

Staff was looking for clarification regarding the goal of the bond as well as what criteria could lead to a decision to change that goal. Staff is preparing for question-and-answer sessions with the public.

Senior planner Matthew Keough later said the pool renovation is moving forward with a bid opening for Phase I. After that, there will be a schedule negotiation with the lowest bidder that meets the criteria.

The district hopes if improvements are made the pool would last another 50 years.

Staff reports

Recreation Division director Madison Collins said staff is working to accommodate people who were waitlisted for summer programs with expanded offerings while also putting together the fall recreation catalog. The men’s steam room at BI Recreation Center was renovated and has reopened. Recreation superintendent Bryan Garoutte said the recent middle school dance had 103 participants.

Keough said staff received word that the permit for the batting cage at Strawberry Hill Park will be issued.

Staff has a strategy to comply with setback requirements for the Grand Forest West parking lot which would elongate its shape. Park Services superintendent David Harry said the parking lot needs to be squeezed between a stream buffer and a right-of-way setback.

Park Services superintendent Lydia Roush said that staff is working to submit the building permit for the bike park at Strawberry Hill Park. There is a strong level of interest from students in participating in the Student Conservation Corps this summer. The city of BI now has all the permits for the Farm Trail and work on that will begin soon.

One bid was received for relining the Don Nakata pool, and it came in over the budgeted amount so staff will be bringing it to the board for approval as a lower bid is not anticipated were it to be reopened.

Kinney asked if notice has been given to the neighbors yet about the upcoming presentation to the board from the pickleball community as Battle Point Park is their preferred location for covered courts. Hamlin said not yet, but it will be going out.

Public comments

Clay Roberts said there was a recent article about a regional pickleball facility in Poulsbo, and he does not want that to get confused with the goal to build covered outdoor pickleball courts on BI. He asked about the status of the tennis courts planned at Sakai Park. Keough said the permitting process required the tennis court plans to be resubmitted due to a stream buffer. The project still has the potential to be out for bid this summer.

Edith Cobourn said that tensions between the tennis and pickleball players at the shared tennis courts at Battle Point are down if not gone, and she requested that the board consider not turning the shared tennis courts into pickleball courts for at least a year after the new tennis courts at Sakai are built.