PORT ANGELES — Voters will be asked Nov. 7 to take William Shore Memorial Pool to the next level eight years after they saved it from extinction.
Pool district commissioners have unanimously approved placing a measure on the Nov. 7 general election ballot that would increase the debt capacity of the district by $3.5 million to between $10 million and $10.5 million.
That would allow the district to go ahead with a planned $12 million expansion of the 225 E. Fifth St. pool facility, which opened in 1962 and has been operated since 2009 by a voter-approved metropolitan park district.
If voters approve the debt-capacity increase, commissioners would levy an additional approximate amount of 6 cents per $1,000 of valuation for the levy-funded portion of the project. They already have permission to increase the levy, but lack permission to increase the debt load, which is why the district must go to the voters in November.
General obligation bonds totaling up to $3.5 million would be issued if the measure is approved — and if grant funding is issued for the project.
In the expansion project, the pool building would grow from the present 15,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet. Construction would begin in late 2019 and be completed in 2020.
Added would be a children’s splash-play area, new locker rooms, a sauna, a thermal spa and a therapy pool to the complex, opened in 1962 and named after a beloved coach and swim teacher.
The pool is snugly located the distance of two rows of parking spaces west of the City Hall-police station annex.
Parking would expand west on property occupied by Peninsula Behavior Health’s Horizon Center that would front the corner of Fifth and Lincoln streets.
The expansion project would be covered by bond funds made available by expanding the debt limit; $6 million to $7 million in levy-funded, non-voted bond money; and $2 million to $3 million in anticipated grants, said pool Executive Director Steve Burke, also a Port of Port Angeles commissioner, after commissioners voted unanimously July 28 to put the debt expansion measure on the November ballot.
If voters approve the debt-capacity increase and commissioners levy an additional amount, the increase would be about $12.80 a year on a $200,000 home.
If the debt-capacity expansion is not approved, the levy will not be imposed, Burke said.
The district levies 18 cents per $1,000 of property valuation and has the authority to levy 75 cents per $1,000.
“History has shown we levy only exactly what we need,” Burke said. “We’ve shown that we’re trustworthy. We already have the levy authority to finance the $7 million with bonds.
“We’re asking for an increased debt capacity to round out the debt capacity for the project.”
Admission and program fee increases could be part of the equation.
“If it did, it would be fairly nominal,” Burke said.
On the board are Randy Johnson and Bill Peach, also Clallam County commissioners; Anna Manildi, board president and its citizen-at-large member; and Brad Collins and Cherie Kidd, both Port Angeles City Council members.
“We’ve been so successful, we’ve literally outgrown our current facilities, and what we are doing now is not only adding facilities, not only health and wellness, but to our future direction,” Kidd said during an eight-minute special meeting at the county courthouse.
“We saved the pool, and now we have to make it usable and expand it so we can continue to invite people to come.
“The community will really benefit from what we are doing today.”
Yet to be seen is “how do we make all this fit with the amount of money we have,” Johnson said.
“We are just starting as far as the hard work goes.”
The grants are key to the project, Burke said later.
“If we don’t get the grants, we will not be able to move forward.
“If we don’t get the grants, we also don’t issue the debt that the voters approve.”
The pool was owned by the city in 2009 when city officials were planning to close it due to extensive renovations that were required.
“It was going to shut down,” Burke recalled.
“There were no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
The pool saw a record-breaking year in 2016 with more than 100,000 visits and an average of 274 a day.
Voters in 2009 wanted to save the pool and wanted to make it to work.
“We are even going beyond those expectations now,” Burke said.
“When the district was formed in 2009, voters approved enough levy capacity to do projects.
“We just wanted to wait until we had the right project to be able to move forward.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.