Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson took some by surprise at the April 24th Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, when during his ‘State of the City’ address he announced a plan to triple the size of the Y/Community Center and add a pool.
Larson said a recent city council Objectives and Goals exercise had identified four new city initiatives, including a community pool/Y expansion. He said the next City Council Town Hall in May will also take on the topic.
For the past 3 years, Snoqualmie YMCA Executive Director Nate Smith has been telling the council at its annual retreat that the busy Y needs more capacity for programming and to address member needs, particularly in the exercise area. Last month the Y installed a portable that was placed near the front entrance where it will relocate programs currently run in the community room, which will then become additional exercise space.
Larson said the YMCA expansion proposal is that of his administration and is supported by the YMCA, which through a partnership agreement operates the facility that is owned by the city.
The proposal includes a 22,000 sq. ft. expansion – taking the current 13,000 sq. ft. facility to 35,000 sq. ft – which includes an aquatics component complete with a warm water and 4-6 lane pools. Larson said to get the pool to six lanes would require another partnership.
The expansion would cost approximately $12.5 million. The YMCA would contribute $2.5 million, of which $1.2 would potentially be a state grant. Executive Director Smith said the Y has secured the same state grant for some of its other aquatics facilities and is prepared to push hard to receive it again.
The proposal has the city contributing $10 million – $4 million from capital reserves accumulated though one-time revenues. Larson said, “By policy, we spend such resources on one-time capital projects and not on ongoing operations.”
The remaining $6 million would come from a ‘councilmanic’ bond. Larson said the annual $500,000 payment on the 20-year bond could be paid from ‘several sources’ such as Real Estate Excise taxes. Both funding sources would have to be approved by city council.
The Snoqualmie YMCA opened in January 2012. Larson noted that the city’s population has grown by 4,000 since that time and that the current facility no longer meets the needs of the community.
When the YMCA/Community Center was originally designed and placed on the city-owned land parcel, a potential future expansion was included in the designs. See photos below.
Larson defended the potential large capital investment in the facility saying even with that $10 million capital investment, the city’s total recreation budget would still be well below that of other similar communities.
The current partnership agreement between the city and the YMCA of Greater Seattle requires the Y to cover all operational costs of the Snoqualmie facility, as well as all and future building maintenance costs – even though it is city-owned. [The grounds around the facility are maintained by the city, though.]
Y Director Smith said his staff needs to know this summer whether to pursue the $1.2 million state grant for expansion funding. Larson said he hopes to have a decision from council by August as to whether they wish to pursue the expansion.
The city has not formally surveyed residents regarding a potential city-funded YMCA expansion. The Y has surveyed members and non members in the past, with results showing support for an expansion. Last fall city residents were asked via YMCA phone survey if they would support using city funds for an expansion if there were no new taxes and other city services would not decrease. 64% said they would likely or probably support. 26% said they would definitely or probably not support and 10% said they didn’t know.
The City of Snoqualmie is planning an upcoming May Town Hall to discuss the Y expansion/pool topic – to gauge if it is an important issue for residents.
The date of the Town Hall is still to be determined. The council had originally looked at May 19th, but is currently trying to determine if there is a date when all councilmembers could attend.