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City to hold community meeting on Recreation Building Master Plan Oct. 3
Before Susan Langsley moved to Redmond, she lived in Portland, Ore. and while she was there, one of the things she was really impressed with was the city’s Southwest Community Center.
With two pools to accommodate swimmers of all types — from lap swimmers to kids — community meeting and party rooms, gymnasiums, fitness rooms and more, she said the facility was “fabulous.”
“It was just a great community resource,” Langsley said.
But when she arrived in Redmond seven years ago, the Education Hill resident said she found that the Redmond Pool at Hartman Park could use some improvements.
At the meeting, which will be from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Bytes Cafe at City Hall at 15670 N.E. 85th St., there will be a presentation and community conversation regarding the future of the city’s four recreation buildings: the Redmond Pool, the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, the Old Fire House Teen Center (OFH) and the Redmond Senior Center (RSC).
A ROAD MAP FOR FUTURE RECREATION
Katie Anderson, deputy director for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the master plan will provide them with a road map for future of the four buildings.
“These four buildings are in various states of conditions,” she said, adding that the master plan may also look at the type of programming the city offers, but things are still at the conceptual stage.
Anderson said five concepts will be presented to the community. Possible sites for a new aquatics community center will also be presented for the community to evaluate. Public feedback and input will be used to narrow the options to one recommended concept, which will be unveiled at a community open house slated for Nov. 13.
Anderson said customer satisfaction regarding the city’s recreational services is mixed and developing the master plan will help them in serving the community’s needs and improve efficiency. The master plan will also help city staff prepare for Redmond’s anticipated growth.
“We’re recognizing that there will be an increase in population, especially in downtown Redmond and Overlake in the near future,” Anderson said.
SWIMMING ON BORROWED TIME
The highest need in the city is a new aquatics center and Anderson said they are focusing on downtown sites for a possible new location.
Langsley, who is an “on-and-off-again” regular swimmer, said the current Redmond Pool is inaccessible for family swim time and is very crowded. One of the things she liked about the community center in Oregon as well as the Paul Derda Recreation Center in Broomfield, Colo. — which she has also visited — is all the different rooms available for various uses.
“They’re just really, really pleasant places to go to,” Langsley said.
Mark Hickok, recreation division manager for the City of Redmond, acknowledged that Redmond Pool is outdated. He said it was built in 1970 and while they were able to update a lot of things on the surface such as cleaning the pool and retiling when the city took ownership in 2010, the pool still needs a lot of work behind the scenes such as the building’s pipes.
“We’re on borrowed time,” he said about the pool’s lifespan of 40 years. “We’re maintaining it the best we can.”
Hickok added that the pool’s current location is very tight on parking and things get particularly difficult when there is a swim meet.
Although the city is the property owner, WAVE Aquatics operates the pool and Hickok said the organization has been included in the talks and meetings regarding the master plan.
MORE SPACE, MORE DIFFERENT SPACE
Of all the city’s recreation buildings, the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center is the oldest, having been built in 1922. It became a community center in January 2000.
Hickok said because it used to be a school — as the name indicates — the building does not accommodate all of the city’s needs. For example, holding fitness classes in a school classroom doesn’t always work. It is also difficult to hold “wet classes” such as paint classes for kids in a room with carpet because it’s difficult to clean.
“We make the best of it,” Hickok said.
Another issue the city currently has is a deficiency of gyms. Hickok said they only have the one gym at the community center, which the city has been leasing from Lake Washington School District since 1997. This partnership with the district extends beyond this as the city utilizes many of the school gyms throughout Redmond.
“We use a lot of gyms in the schools...but (the schools) need them for things, too,” Hickok said.
In community surveys, Anderson and Hickok said people have told them they would like to see things such as an indoor running/walking track, more gyms, additional multi-purpose spaces and fitness spaces. Anderson said people have also said they want to see a theater for performing arts.
At the moment, the city is looking at various options that range from investing in and expanding its current recreation buildings to moving locations and building new buildings.
A PLACE TO CALL THEIR OWN
The OFH was built in 1952 and previously served as the Redmond fire station and city hall.
Anderson said the building became a teen center in 1992 in response to feedback the city received from teens at a youth summit.
“Teens wanted a place to share their music and talent,” she said.
Ken Wong, teen and 50+ program administrator for the city, said the teen center is outdated and structurally may not meet their needs in the future. Teens have been involved in the stakeholders’ meeting and Wong said they want a teen center that is located downtown or in a central area where teens can easily access it.
“What the teen center needs and what we have seen trending for teens,” he said, “is a space that they can call their own, a place where they can share their talent — performance space — and structured programs that they can be involved in or learn from.”
Wong said how this will look in the short term and long term will be determined by what the community shares as its interests.
“Teens need a space that they can own and make their own and be able to be learn and share,” he said. “The Old Fire House Teen Center has been that place and as we look to the future and evaluating the condition of the site, we need to make some changes and (now) we have time to do that.”
Like the community’s teens, Anderson said the seniors in the community also want a place specifically for them and to have ownership of their center.
In coming up with the five options that will be presented next week, Anderson said they held focus groups with users of all the buildings, including the RSC’s Senior Advisory Committee, which acts in an advisory capacity to staff in assessing participants’ needs and planning RSC activities.
The current RSC was built in 1990 and program coordinator Karen Phillips said they want the community to have the opportunity to bring their ideas forward at next week’s meeting before commenting.
For more information on the Recreation Building Master Plan, contact Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 556-2334.