It was a coincidence that Seattle Parks and Recreation had to close the Green Lake community center’s swimming pool because of a mechanical problem Thursday, mere hours after announcing the city will seek bids to design a new center and pool there.
The city’s well-used pools require regular maintenance and plumbers repaired the issue quickly, allowing Evans Pool to reopen Friday, a spokeswoman said. But in the long term, Parks wants to replace its Green Lake complex entirely.
On Monday, Parks will request proposals for a “professional services team” to design a new Green Lake community center and pool, the agency said. The project is expected to cost more than $25 million, spokeswoman Rachel Schulkin said.
Located on the east side of one of the city’s most popular parks, Green Lake’s community center was built in 1928 and the pool was added in 1955. With nearly 270,000 visits counted, Green Lake was Seattle’s second-busiest center in 2017, trailing only Rainier Beach, a newer center that also has a pool.
The design team that Parks selects will assess the existing site, which also includes what could be Seattle’s best-known street basketball court. It will need to answer whether the new center and pool should be built at the same site or elsewhere in the park and whether the new center and pool should be located together or apart.
The team will be expected to deliver a site analysis. After public outreach, Parks will decide where to build. Then design work and more outreach will begin.
Parks repaired the Green Lake community center’s leaky roof and replaced its outdated boiler about a year ago, Schulkin said. “While there are ongoing issues that come up (as with all our buildings), there are no other major maintenance projects scheduled for this building,” she added.
Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed 2020-2025 capital-improvement program calls for $500,000 to help plan and design Green Lake’s new center and pool.
Funds to build the new center and pool are anticipated to be included in the 2021-2026 spending plan for the Seattle Metropolitan Parks District, which voters approved in 2014 and which raises additional property taxes each year to support the parks system. That plan is scheduled to be adopted next year.
Parks stirred some concern about privatization in 2017 when it said it would consider partnering with a nonprofit to pay for and manage a new Green Lake community center and pool. Jesus Aguirre, who was superintendent at the time, left City Hall in January 2018. He was rehired this year.
The public-private partnership idea initially arose when Parks drew up a Community Center Strategic Plan in 2016, Schulkin said.
“Given that Green Lake CC was determined to be past its useful life, and given that we had no identified funding for re-development, we explored potential options for generating the resources necessary,” she said last week.
“Our baseline was always that whatever operating model we selected would guarantee a minimum of the same level of service currently being provided.”
Monday’s request for proposals won’t address, one way or the other, whether Parks will partner with a nonprofit at Green Lake, Schulkin said.