An exercise group trains at William Shore Memorial Pool. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

An exercise group trains at William Shore Memorial Pool. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

State money to allow Port Angeles pool to kick-start expansion

PORT ANGELES — William Shore Memorial Pool officials could break ground this year for an expansion after it received $1.5 million in state funding.

The funding was approved as part of the supplemental capital budget. The Senate approved the budget Thursday in a 49-0 vote and House passed the budget on Tuesday 96-2. It was approved in the state Legislature on Thursday.

“That’s great news,” said Steve Burke, the pool’s executive director. “We’re moving ahead as fast as we can. It still takes time to do design and engineering, but as soon as we get that done, we’ll break ground.”

Rep. Steve Tharinger said it waits for Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature.

“Our thanks are to [Reps.] Mike Chapman, Steve Tharinger and [Sen. Kevin] Van De Wege for getting this done,” Burke said. “We wouldn’t be able to get this done without them.”

The Democrats represent Legislative District 24, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

Chapman is from Port Angeles, while Tharinger and Van De Wege are from Sequim.

Voters overwhelmingly supported William Shore Memorial Pool District’s measure to expand its bond capacity during the November election.

Burke said the state funding would allow the pool to get a better bond rating.

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 with the unanticipated funding from the state, construction could begin as early as fall of this year, Burke said.

The $1.5 million is just one way the expansion’s financial situation is shaping up better than expected.

Burke told the Clallam County Board of County Commissioners on Monday the pool district no longer needed to borrow $750,000 from the county’s Opportunity Fund, though the pool is still requesting a $50,000 grant from the fund.

The pool’s bank, Kitsap Bank, offered the pool a line of credit for the same amount.

“I felt — and our board as well — that the Opportunity Fund is used for things that maybe traditional funding sources aren’t available for,” Burke said. “If we’re able to use a commercially available line of credit .. that gives opportunity for other programs that may not qualify for traditional funding.”

Burke said the $50,000 in funding would help the pool secure competitive federal and state grants.

“What they want to see is there is participation at the community level supporting the project,” he said.

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.

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.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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