The saga of the Carole Ann Wald Memorial Pool is over.
After months of speculation about its future, the pool in St. Edward State Park reopened its doors June 6.
Based in Mill Creek, Troy Emmons, executive director of West Coast Aquatics, the facility’s new operator said West Coast officials signed a formal contract with the state Parks and Recreation Commission to take over the Kenmore pool April 29.
The state has undertaken some repairs to both the pool and the attached gymnasium, repairs that temporarily delayed the reopening.
The pool was closed Feb. 23 after its former operator walked away for financial reasons. Emmons added West Coast targeted May 23 for the reopening simply because “it was the earliest day we could figure how to do it.” The pool’s opening was again pushed back, this time to June 6.
With state funding for the pool eliminated in the recently signed contract, Emmons has said his group intended to reach out to various past pool supporters for financial help. At its May 11 meeting, Kenmore City Council renewed its pledge to help fund the pool at the rate of $25,000 annually for the next two years.
“We think the pool is an important asset for the community,” said Mayor David Baker, who noted that unlike Northwest Centers of Seattle, the pool’s former operator, West Coast’s only business is operating swimming pools.
“It looks like we’re going to have what we had before and more,” Baker said, stating he expects West Coast to offer the same mix of open and family swimming opportunities along with swimming classes as did Northwest. He added the pool once more also will serve as home base for the Inglemoor High swim team.
“It is great news that the pool will reopen,” said Chris Tracy, a Kenmore resident who became one of the pool’s most vocal backers when financial problems began to threaten the facility late last year. “The outpouring of support from the community, from Kenmore City Council, from Bastyr University and others was helpful in applying pressure on Washington State Parks to look for ways to reopen the pool.”
Like the city of Kenmore, Bastyr has been a financial supporter of the pool, and at one point school officials said they were willing to at least consider running the pool themselves.
“West Coast Aquatics has a track record of managing a successful pool operation and they will have the support of swimmers anxious to use the facility again,” Tracy added.
A certified nonprofit, West Coast currently operates the Mill Creek Swim Club, a pool that is open to the public in that city. Emmons admitted taking over the Wald pool basically doubles the size of his organization, but he expressed no reservations in that regard.
“We’re very excited about it,” he said. “We’ve been working hard to get things going.”
In the past, Emmons has said, that like Northwest, West Coast will be charging admission to the pool, as well as collecting fees for various classes and programs. The parks commission settled on West Coast as the pool’s new operator after sending out a request for operating proposals for the pool. Although no attached dollar figure was released, Emmons said the repairs to the pool and gym completed by the state included replacing some mechanical equipment, as well as power washing both facilities.