Council consensus that site selection is important to finding partners
At its January 21 meeting, the Kirkland City Council gave consideration to five proposed sites within Kirkland for a potential future aquatics center to replace the Juanita Aquatic Center which may close as early as 2017. Following discussions during its Study Session, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution that allows the City to further study Juanita Beach Park (north side), North Kirkland Community Center (NKCC), South Norway Hill Park, a parcel in Totem Lake, including possibly the Mall area, and Saint Edward State Park (Kenmore, WA). The City Council amended the resolution to allow additional sites to be included for review if necessary.
Preliminary site analysis was conducted by the City’s Parks and Community Services Department and The Sports Management Group on five parcels located within Kirkland city limits: Juanita Beach Park, NKCC, Mark Twain Park, Snyder’s Corner Park, and the private property located at 9826 NE 132ndStreet (former Albertson’s grocery store). The Study was launched in September 2013 following the announcement by Lake Washington School District (LWSD) that it would be closing its pool at Juanita High School. City Council members recognized that finding a site would help bring in other public and private partners, reached consensus that the facility should provide aquatic and recreation programs, and directed staff to look at potentially phasing the construction. Council members also agreed to study the feasibility of encasing the Peter Kirk Pool with an inflatable cover as a temporary measure to allow for year round use should additional time needed to complete a new aquatics center.
Preliminary analysis of the sites within Kirkland included the size and configuration of the parcel, centrality within the community, parking, and access for vehicles, public transportation, pedestrians and bicyclists. Also included the evaluation was visibility of the site, neighborhood impacts, zoning, surrounding land uses, availability of utilities, site appearance, and if the property was owned by the City of Kirkland. The City Council directed staff to conduct a robust public outreach effort.
“The City of Kirkland will involve the public in helping to select a site for a facility that can best meet the public’s need for competition, recreation and wellness,” says Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen.
Last year, the Juanita Aquatic Center (Juanita High School Pool) was deemed by LWSD to be nearing the end of its useful life and would require an estimated $15 million to replace. Although the LWSD Board of Directors approved placing a school bond measure on the February 2014 election ballot which, if approved, would modernize Juanita High School, the ballot will not propose funding to replace the pool. If the February 2014 ballot measure passes, the District anticipates closing the Juanita pool as early as 2017.
Mayor Amy Walen proposed that the City contact the State Department of Parks to explore the possibility of the aquatics center being located at Saint Edward State Park. City Council Member Dave Asher suggested that a site in the Totem Lake neighborhood, and possibly in the Mall, be considered. City staff will be contacting Kenmore city officials and the Totem Lake Mall owners.