Hawkins to lead stakeholder discussions on regional aquatics center

Local leaders to explore how local governments could work together to construct and operate a modernized pool facility, including Olympic-sized outdoor pool, water slides and splash pad.

Sen. Brad Hawkins will be kick-starting discussions among local leaders on Sept. 15 about joining forces to identify a new, long-term outdoor pool solution in the Wenatchee Valley.

With the Wenatchee City Pool, constructed in 1965, in significant need of repair, Hawkins and some local leaders believe now is the time to collaborate on ideas for a new, modernized facility to benefit the area’s growing communities.

Hawkins, who recently sponsored capital budget funding to assist the city of Wenatchee to repair its aging pool, believes keeping that facility operational in the short term is a priority, but he thinks a new, modernized facility for the region is better for the taxpayers and public over the long term.

“The Wenatchee City Pool has served us well for over five decades, but it will need significant investments just to keep it operational in the near term,” said Hawkins. “It would be more cost effective, more equitable, and more beneficial in the long term for our communities to join together to support a regional solution.

“Now is the time to collaborate about options because we might be able to develop a plan for an outdoor facility to serve our growing region for the next 50 years. That would be incredible for children, families, and local employers while provide lasting quality-of-life and economic benefits,” added Hawkins.

The envisioned facility could include an Olympic-sized outdoor pool to replace the Wenatchee City Pool, a zero-entry children’s pool, splash pad, and water slides along with ample parking, picnic, and restroom facilities. Hawkins has held positive preliminary conversations with Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz and East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford and plans to expand the discussion to a larger group of stakeholders on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Confluence Technology Center in Wenatchee.

Invited guests are expected to include cities, counties, regional port authority, swimming organizations, and other stakeholders. One potential location for the facility could be within the undeveloped 283-acre “Wenatchi Landing” area in Douglas County, just south of the Odabashian Bridge.

Hawkins believes the Wenatchee Valley or its two-county area is definitely large enough to support the facility.

“When you combine the population of our area, we are actually much larger than some of the communities that already have these facilities, so this could definitely happen, if we want it. I think it would be tremendously beneficial to our community. We need more things like this for children, families, and employers,” he said.

As part of his exploratory process, Hawkins has been reviewing existing state statutes and drafting legislation to authorize local governments to join together to form a regional aquatics district.

 (PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured is an example of a regional aquatic facility that Sen. Hawkins hopes could someday serve the growing communities in Chelan and Douglas counties. Shown in the photo is the Oxford Aquatic Center in Oxford, Ohio.)