As a member of the Yes! – Sammamish Community and Aquatic Center committee, I would like to respond to Christie Malchow’s very thoughtful Sammamish Patch article on this issue.
I am also a Sammamish Parks Commissioner, but these opinions are mine and those of the Yes! Committee and are not intended to represent the Parks Commission as a whole.
Christie Malchow has written a very thoughtful post that raises several questions a lot of people are asking about the proposed Sammamish Community and Aquatic Center. Like her, I believe that swimming is a critical life skill. (I currently drive from my home in Sammamish to the Coal Creek Y in order to give my grandchildren an opportunity to learn to swim.) But unlike her, I have made up my mind on this issue: My vote will be a resounding “Yes!”
As a member of the Sammamish Parks Commission, I am acutely aware that numerous polls of our citizens have indicated a strong desire for an aquatic center right in the heart of our city. We live in a young community and need a family-oriented center, with a pool that allows for all ages and abilities. Lap pools at local fitness centers are not suitable for young children. The recreational pool proposed for our community will have a shallow entry, a water slide and other fun features as well as life guards. And the proposed lap pool will have equipment that allows for handicapped entry.
I know a lot of us believe there are other, competing uses for these funds. But more than half of the dollars for this community and aquatic center would come from restricted funds: the Parks and Recreation capital budget. The City Council moved other parks construction projects forward to beyond 2015, to free up these funds.
Once built, the community and aquatic center will be an asset, owned by the city. The Y will take on all operating and maintenance expenses, something they have done at all their facilities for more than 140 years. If the Y were forced to close their doors, it would be a first. They have never been forced to close a facility in a young and thriving community such as ours. And because the Y is nonprofit, it raises funds through donations and grants, allowing membership fees to remain low.
By the time we build this facility – if we build it – my grandchildren will be well beyond swimming lesson age. But in a community with so many young families, I would like to ensure that every child has an opportunity to learn to swim. It is a critical skill. And that is why I am donating my time to the “Yes!” campaign and that is why I will vote “Yes!” on Proposition 1.