Three Northshore-area city councils and leaders of the Northshore School District will gather tonight to discuss the fate of the community's...

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Three Northshore-area city councils and leaders of the Northshore School District will gather tonight to discuss the fate of the community’s swimming pools and whether to build a new regional pool and water-play center.

For the past two years, Bothell has paid $50,000 and Woodinville and the Northshore School District have chipped in $25,000 apiece annually to keep Bothell’s Northshore Ruiz-Costie Pool open.

The payments began after King County announced it no longer could afford to operate all of its facilities. Kenmore spends $25,000 each year to subsidize the pool at St. Edward State Park.

With the temporary subsidies set to expire in December for the school district and in 2006 for the state park, Northshore-area leaders face several choices: keep paying the subsidies and also find the money for necessary renovations; close them; convert them into child-oriented “leisure pools”; or replace them with a roughly $19 million regional swim center that could be paid for with a property-tax increase.

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The options were included in a study released last fall by the Northshore Park and Recreation Service Area Board that emphasized the need for a solution that would pay for itself.

Pools with more activities — water slides, spray toys, wading pools — can accommodate larger, better-paying crowds than traditional lap pools, the study concluded, which could mean better financial stability.

Closing the pools would leave the Northshore area with no public swimming facilities and would force high-school swim teams, private swim clubs, families and other public-pool users to go elsewhere. The pools currently charge $3 for family swim and $5 for lap swim, and they offer swimming instruction and exercise classes.

Meeting tonight


The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Northshore Utility District offices, 6830 N.E. 185th St. in Kenmore. To see the Northshore Parks and Recreation Service Area Aquatic Study, visit www.cityofkenmore.com/

PRSA/Reports/Reports.html

Carter Hawley, Kenmore’s assistant city manager, said she hopes to leave tonight’s meeting with some direction so the cities and school district can prepare their budgets or plan for a ballot measure.

“The four elected bodies have never gotten together to talk about this regional pool, which leaves enough wiggle room in the past to not move forward,” Hawley said.

In 2002, King County began talks with cities about taking over operating costs. Swimmers rallied countywide for cities to make up the difference and keep them in the water.

Woodinville closed Sorenson Pool after finding it a financial drain. The Seattle-based Northwest Center stepped in to operate the other two Northshore pools, with financial help from Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Kirkland, Bastyr University and Evergreen Hospital Medical Center.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com