Editor’s note: The story has been corrected to reflect the correct last day to swim, Friday, May 24.
PORT ANGELES — The William Shore Memorial Pool in Port Angeles will close next month as it readies for an extensive $16.5 million renovation that will add a children’s splash and play area, new locker rooms and a warm-water therapy pool.
The last day to swim before the anticipated 10-month closure will be Friday, May 24, said William Shore Memorial Pool Director Steve Burke.
It isn’t yet clear when the pool will reopen, Burke said. No date has been set, but he hopes the pool will reopen sometime in February.
“It’s starting to get real, to feel like it’s actually going to happen,” Burke said Tuesday. “It’s going to look amazing, but until it starts to get built, it’s hard to realize how significant of a change it is.”
Burke said the pool district is working with the city and the state Department of Health on permits and he doesn’t anticipate any delays.
Voters approved of the project by more than 70 percent in November 2017, allowing for local match money provided by the voters as well as the Clallam County Opportunity Fund.
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.
The new pool will have a children’s splash and play area, new locker rooms, a warm-water therapy pool and other amenities, allowing the aquatic center to operate multiple programs at the same time.
“We have more demand than we have space,” Burke said. “One body of water is not ideal for all the different user groups we have. It’s a fairly natural progression for what a community needs in terms of an aquatic center and this will provide a lot more options for recreational activities and programs.”
When the project was first pitched to voters in 2017 Burke said the expansion would cost about $10 million. In June 2018, he said that the construction cost was expected to be $10.5 million with total project costs — including architecture, engineering, permitting, connection fees, moving the Horizon Center, sales tax and a 5 percent reserve — of $14.5 million.
Now construction is expected to cost $11.7 million due to the addition of 3,100 square feet for after-school care and total project costs are at $16.5 million.
He said the pool district has secured $3.5 million in grants, part of which funded the expansion for after school care.
“We also had to shrink the scope of the building size to reduce costs to within our budget of $11.5 since construction costs have gone up about 13-20 percent since January of 2018,” he said in an email.
The pool district’s levy has risen from $0.18 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2017 to $0.24 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2018 and up to about $0.37 per $1,000 assessed valuation this year, close to what voters were told in 2017.
This year the owner of a $300,000 home can expect to pay about $111 in property taxes to support the pool.
“The levy is going to go up at the amount we planned it to go up,” Burke said. “It is not changing from what we originally planned on doing.”
Phases raise costs
The pool had intended to stay open during construction by building in two phases, but in October Burke announced that expanding in phases would increase costs by more than $750,000.
Burke said he is most excited about the improvements that will allow more activities for children. The children’s area will feature a lazy river and splash features, he said. Because it will have multiple bodies of water, the aquatic center will host multiple programs at the same time.
“We’ll be able to have kids’ activities while we have therapy activities and lap swimming, instead of having the pool close for just one type of activity,” he said.
The expansion also will allow the pool to host its after-school program onsite and expand the SPARK — Swim Play and Active Recreation for Kids — Squad program, he said.
Currently the SPARK Squad accommodates 60 youngsters; the number will expand to about 75, he said.
With the update comes modern locker rooms, including six universal change rooms.
“That’ll be more ideal for families with younger kids,” he said. “You don’t have to bring them into your locker room.”
Among the first changes people will see is the removal of the Peninsula Behavioral Health’s Horizon Center. Burke said it will be put on wheels and moved to 235 E. Eighth St. during the second week of May. He said permits and contracts are secured for the move.
The removal of the building will make room for the 10,000-square-foot expansion of the pool.
While the pool is closed there aren’t many options for people who want to swim. He said staff from the YMCA of Sequim will be onsite during the last couple weeks to register people to swim there.
During the last open swim before construction begins, the water level will be lowered and people will be encouraged to bring their dogs to the pool.
Burke said it’s an idea inspired by other pools that host dog swims as they close for the season.
“We will lower the water level and you can have [your dog] play in the pool with you,” Burke said. “I think there will be quite a bit of interest. It will be fun to watch.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].