Hawkins supports Kuntz’s idea of “regional aquatic center,” seeks to help city with costly pool repairs

The Senate’s 2021-2023 capital budget update includes $300,000 to assist the city of Wenatchee with pool repairs, opportunity may exist for full funding of $550,000.

State Sen. Brad Hawkins sympathizes with the city of Wenatchee for costly pool repairs and ongoing operational costs. He supports Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz’s suggestion of exploring a “regional aquatic center” model.

Hawkins, a longtime supporter of outdoor recreation, said, “The pool in Wenatchee may be a ‘city’ pool, but it is clearly a regional asset and future expenses would be more appropriately shared across local governments, rather than borne by the city alone.”

Hawkins supports sharing resources across jurisdictions to maximize efficiencies and believes the regional aquatic center concept could be a better long-term approach for a resource that has such broad economic and outdoor recreation benefits.

The city’s total project is estimated to cost over $888,000. A Youth Athletic Facilities grant through the state Recreation and Conservation Office funded $350,000 in pool repairs in the 2021-2023 capital budget approved last year. To close the remaining funding gap, Hawkins is seeking a $550,000 direct appropriation in the supplemental 2021-2023 capital budget, which is essentially a budget update. The additional amount is intended to close the remaining funding gap and help assist with cost increases, as well as any modest administration fees applied by the Department of Commerce.

The Senate supplemental capital budget proposal, which was passed unanimously by the Senate today, includes $300,000 for the Wenatchee pool project.

“This is the stage in the legislative session when budget proposals are being unveiled and approved,” said Hawkins. “In order for an item to be successfully funded, it must be approved in the final budget agreed to by the House, Senate, and governor.” With the $300,000 already included in the Senate’s capital budget, Hawkins feels the funding is off to a promising start.

“Our district has been really fortunate to have Representative Steele serving in a prominent role in our state capital budget process, so I’m coordinating with him to see if he can help get the current funding across the finish line or even provide a bump of additional funding,” said Hawkins. “Our legislative team works together on many bills and budget items, and this is just one example.”

Hawkins added, “I think Mayor Kuntz said it best when he so eloquently described the pool as ‘the bomb diggity,’ which may not be a specific municipal or legislative term but generally means ‘a really cool thing.’”

 Audio clips on pool repair funding