Wald pool once more set to close
November 27, 2009 · Updated 9:16 PM
Roughly six months after becoming the seeming savior of the Carole Ann Wald Pool in St. Edward State Park, West Coast Aquatics announced Nov. 25 that they will be closing the pool Dec. 31.
West Coast made its announcement through a press release. Because of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, officials were not immediately available for further comment.
According to the release, the non-profit West Coast reached out for financial support to various local institutions, including Bastyr University, Evergreen Hospital and the Friends of St. Edward's. While the pool operators received what they called a "gratifying level" of support, they also said that in the end the support was just not enough.
"Combined with unforeseen projected mechanical repair work, this has created a financial burden (West Coast) and the state cannot bear," West Coast's press release reads in part.
The release said West Coast formally tendered, on Nov. 25, a 30-day notice to vacate the Kenmore facility.
"The many families, employees and volunteers at WCA (West Coast) are thankful for the opportunity it received to try and keep this important facility open and they are saddened by the fact that they are not able to continue to do so," West Coast officials stated.
West Coast indicated it will continue to operate swim team and lesson programs from its original Mill Creek pool.
Kenmore City Hall apparently received word of the coming closure of the Wald facility via a phone call the same day West Coast made its public announcement.
"I was told that the costs of the operation and maintenance was more significant than expected, particularly utility costs," said Kenmore City Manager Frederick Stouder in a written update delivered to Kenmore City Council. "A late start into the year and several personnel changes also impacted the ability to operate the pool."
Stouder said West Coast tried to renegotiate its operating agreement with the state, which owns the pool and the attached gymnasium.
"The state indicated it would not reopen the arrangements," Stouder added.
By the end of the year, Kenmore was scheduled to contribute $25,000 towards the running of the pool, but in his notice to council, Stouder said even those dollars were not enough to keep West Coast from struggling financially.
The Wald pool was in the news often early this year after former operator Northwest Centers of Seattle terminated its long-standing agreement to run the pool. Like West Coast leaders, Northwest officials cited money as the chief reason for walking away from the facility. The pool closed Feb. 23 only to reopen May 23 after state park officials held a search for potential operators and eventually reached an agreement with West Coast.
Up until recently, Northwest Center also was the operator of Bothell's Ruiz-Costie/Northshore Pool. The doors to that pool closed, possibly permanently, on Aug. 31.
The Northshore pool was a partnership of the cities of Bothell and Woodinville, along with the Northshore School District. In a letter dated June 24, Northwest officials informed the school district they would be giving up running the pool mostly for financial reasons.
According to the school district, Northwest stated it was losing about $50,000 a year running the Northshore pool. Northwest previously had said the Wald pool was costing them $55,000 annually.
Bothell city officials long have discussed some sort of regional pool facility, with partners including the school district and the city of Kirkland. A feasibility study of such an operation was completed in June 2008, but no action was ever taken. The question apparently received its most recent formal discussion during a joint meeting of school district and various city leaders held Nov. 12 in Woodinville. That discussion included the possibility of a regional facility being built in the Totem Lake area of Kirkland, but again no decisions were reached.