At its July 21, 2015 meeting, the Kirkland City Council unanimously approved Ordinance O-4484 (PDF) placing a ballot measure before Kirkland voters on the November 3 General Election to create the Kirkland Aquatics and Recreation District that, if approved, would fund the proposed Kirkland Aquatics-Recreation-Community (ARC) Center. Following discussion on proposed amendments to a companion ordinance, the City Council unanimously approved Ordinance O-4485 (PDF) that authorizes the City Manager to sign an interlocal agreement (PDF) with the Kirkland Aquatics and Recreation District should its creation be approved by the voters, which would ensure transparency and accountability.
The siting study has developed building components for an approximate 87,000 square foot facility that includes a competitive swimming pool, recreation pool, gymnasium, community hall, fitness center, dance studio, class rooms, wood floor studio and party room.
“Kirkland is known for its parks and quality of life,” states Mayor Amy Walen. “This ballot measure allows the community to decide if it is willing to invest in both. The residents have been urging the City Council to provide this opportunity for some time.”
In the fall of 2013, following the announcement by the Lake Washington School District that it would close the indoor pool at the Juanita Aquatics Center, overflow of crowds of residents came to the City and asked the City to find a solution. In response, the City initiated a comprehensive study of potential sites for the proposed ARC Center to better meet the aquatics and recreation needs of the community.
“There has been overwhelming and consistent support from citizens to pursue a multi-purpose recreational facility. I believe the City and the City Council have been responsive to the desires and concerns expressed during the siting study,” notes Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet. “Providing an opportunity to vote on the Aquatics and Recreation District to fund the ARC is the best way for the community to decide for itself.”
A Metropolitan Park District (MPD) is allowed by State law, requires at 50% voter approval, and allows for the collection of property taxes to fund parks and recreation, including maintenance and operations. The City Council determined on June 16 (PDF) that the Kirkland Aquatics and Recreation District would encompass the city boundaries of Kirkland. The City Council would serve as the governing body of the Aquatics and Recreation District.
“This is the smartest method of funding as it is a sustainable mechanism,” adds City Council Member Dave Asher. “It will endure through construction, operations and maintenance. Taxes can go down as the need decreases after we pay off the ‘mortgage.’ We won't have to come back and do this again in forty years. Kirkland will always have an aquatic and recreation facility."
Under the interlocal agreement between the City and the District approved by Ordinance O-4485, the City Council as its governing board, would be responsible for the budget and setting the initial property tax rate. Further, it establishes a citizens advisory committee that would review the operations and finances of the District to ensure accountability to the public. The initial property tax rate would be set solely to generate the annual revenue necessary to fund all costs associated with financing, constructing, operating and maintaining the ARC. Further, it provides for a citizens advisory committee that would review the operations and finances of the Kirkland Aquatics and Recreation District to ensure accountability to the public. Ordinance O-4485 reaffirms the removal of Juanita Beach Park as a potential site for the ARC and requires advisory ballots for approval of major expenditures other than the ARC.
Also at its July 21 meeting, the City Council received an update on the site evaluation of the Christ Church property (PDF) located on NE 118th Street in the Totem Lake neighborhood. The 12-acre site was evaluated for site capacity, civil engineering, utilities, stormwater management, the extension of 118th Ave NE and cost estimates. The evaluation also included a comparison to the North Kirkland Community Center site.
For background and updates on the ARC project, go to www.kirklandwa.gov/kirklandarc.