PORT ANGELES — William Shore Memorial Pool is poised to receive $1.5 million in state funding and if the money is included in the final budget, pool expansion could start about a year early.
That funding was included in the state House Capital Budget and state Rep. Steve Tharinger, who chairs the House Capital Budget Committee, said Wednesday he is hopeful it would be included in the final budget.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “But until the governor signs it, it’s not done.”
Tharinger said the House and Senate likely would begin negotiations on the budget this week and he’d expect it to be signed around March 8, when this legislative session ends.
Whether the pool funding will be included in that final budget isn’t yet known.
“The community supported [the pool] with their vote last fall, so we want to show our support at the state level,” he said.
Voters overwhelmingly supported William Shore Memorial Pool District’s measure to expand its bond capacity during the November election.
The debt load increase, which expanded the district’s debt capacity by $3.5 million up to $10 million, gave the green light to a long-planned, 10,000-square-foot expansion and remodeling of the pool at 225 E. Fifth St.
Construction was expected to begin in 2019, but if the state approves the funding, construction could begin as early as fall of this year, said pool Director Steve Burke.
The new pool will have a children’s splash and play area, new locker rooms, a warm-water therapy pool and other amenities.
Built in 1961, the pool is in need of about $2 million in repairs and the 15,000-square-foot facility has become overcrowded with more than 100,000 annual visits.
The city of Port Angeles operated the pool since it opened in 1962 and planned to close it in 2008 because of the cost of renovations.
Voters formed a metropolitan park district to save the pool in 2009.
Burke said he hadn’t anticipated potential funding from the state this early in the project; he was hoping to get maybe $500,000 sometime next year.
“This [would] enable us to get a better bond rating and help get the project started faster,” he said.
Property owners within the district, which shares a boundary with the Port Angeles School District, will pay an additional 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to help fund the $12 million expansion.
The rest of the expansion will be covered by bonds from existing levy capacity and state grants.
Burke said the state funding would not have an effect on the levy. Burke said the pool needs about $3 million in outside funding for the project and that this funding would be a part of that outside funding.
Burke said the architectural engineering and design for the project will likely be finished by late summer, and if the state funding comes through, construction could start late fall of this year.
He hadn’t thought the funding could come so soon, he said, adding he is thankful for the work Tharinger, state Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and state Sen. Kevin Van de Wege, D-Sequim, have put into it.
“They have been in our corner from the very beginning,” Burke said.
Chapman said the vote to expand the pool’s debt capacity showed the community’s support for the project, making it easier for local lawmakers to ask for state funding.
Van de Wege said Wednesday he is hopeful the funding will be included in the final capital budget.
“Whether or not it gets into the final capital budget depends on how negotiations play out,” Van de Wege said. “Obviously I would favor it being in there.”
Tharinger, who Van de Wege said represents the 24th Legislative district “very well,” will be a part of those negotiations.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].