A consultant shared details about three possible designs for the pool project at Martin Luther King Jr. Park during two community feedback meetings on Wednesday.

Construction is still a long way off, with Counsilman-Hunsaker consultant Miklos Valdez saying that at least another year will pass before official city requests for proposals for the project.

The Yakima City Council approved the feasibility study for the pool — not to exceed $35,000 — at a regularly scheduled council meeting in January. The study will be paid for with Real Estate Excise Tax 1 funds.

Valdez said he considered several key factors community members shared with him about what they wanted in the pool. These included easy entry and disability access to the water, swimming and lap lanes, a kids or “tot” slide, swimming lesson ledges, features for teens, a sprayground and opportunities for recreation-based activities.

Each of the three designs includes plans for a lobby, offices, locker rooms, outdoor restrooms, a classroom or party room and space for concessions and storage, as well as a 1,235-square-foot sprayground.

The designs also include space for the recreational pool with lap lanes and a “tot” swimming pool with slides — with the differences coming in the sizes and amenities differing across the designs.

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The lowest-cost option, at an estimated $7.4 million, has the smallest recreation pool as well as the lowest number of amenities. The most expensive option, at an estimated $8.6 million, includes a larger pool with additional amenities. The two more expensive pools also include a “family slide” amenity that affords parents an opportunity to slide with their children.

Community feedback

Less than a dozen community members attended the two meetings — the first held at the Henry Beauchamp Jr. Community Center and the second at Yakima City Hall — but those who attended voiced a preference for Option 3 — the largest pool with the most amenities.

That option includes a 5,117-square-foot recreation pool with four 25-yard lap lanes, a “vortex” with a whirlpool feature that would allow for therapeutic activities like water walking, and a water slide that includes a 3-foot drop from the end of the slide to the water below — a feature that Valdez said would increase both children’s and teens’ interest in the pool. The third option also includes a 2,139-square-foot tot pool, a family slide and play structure.

Valdez did note, however, that bigger facilities require more lifeguards and generally cost more to operate. A proposed change to help cover those increased costs would be a possible increase in daily access fees — with a proposed $3 cost for children and seniors and a $5 fee for adults, up from $2 and $4 in the city’s current charges.

District 1 Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez, who attended both meetings, said that when the City Council had discussed the pool, they wanted to keep daily access and season passes as affordable as possible. Gutierrez asked members of the community whether they felt that the cost increase for the larger pools would prevent lower-income families and children from coming to the pool.

“What we see is that the more amenities there are, the more the entrance fee is,” Gutierrez said. “What does everyone think about that increase? Is it something that kids and parents can afford?”

Adrianne Garner, director at the Henry Beauchamp Jr. Community Center, said she felt that the extra amenities were important and that low-income families would use the pool, whether for special occasions or through a season pass.

“Kids love water features,” Garner said. “The extra amenities are what’s going to attract kids, not only from this neighborhood but from the others. Option 3 is the bigger bang for your buck.”

Gilbert Chandler, a lifelong Yakima resident, said he liked all the options but felt Option 3 would be the best for the community.

“There needed to be a pool on the east side. I like all the options,” Chandler said. “But the more amenities there are, the more kids will come out and enjoy the pool.”

Chandler also told parks director Ken Wilkinson that he would like to see the existing facilities at MLK Park, including the tennis courts and the splash park, preserved if possible. Wilkinson responded that the facilities are old and in need of updating or replacing.

The splash park that MLK Park already has, one of two the city offers, will likely be replaced with a new sprayground, Wilkinson said.

Community members also asked questions about parking options, security features, pool coverings and solar-powered saving options, which Valdez and Wilkinson said would be addressed in later planning stages.

Ester Huey said she appreciated the updates and efforts.

“This has been a long time coming, and it’s really important,” Huey said. “It’s important for kids to have activities in the areas where they live, and it looks like a facility that eastside residents would really be proud of.”

Parks feedback

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Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission cited preferences for the second and third options, referencing the therapeutic uses of the vortex feature as well as the additional water slide amenities to entice youths to use the pool.

Commission member Stacy Hackenmueller, who voiced support for the middle-cost option, said the design still offered a good number of amenities for a slightly less cost.

Valdez asked whether the commission would find helpful additional research on the fee structures. Commission members also said they would like additional information to ensure that prices could be kept as affordable as possible for community members.

Next steps

Valdez said the agency’s next steps include taking feedback from the meetings and tweaking the option features and revenue and expense analyses.

He anticipates returning to Yakima in August or September to present the updates and gather more feedback.

Wilkinson said he was grateful to all those who attended the public hearing sessions and that he will take everyone’s feedback into consideration.

“We’ve been talking about a swimming pool for quite awhile,” Wilkinson said. “This is an exciting day for us.”

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Reach Lex Talamo at ltalamo@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.