Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hawkins files Regional Aquatic Center legislation

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OLYMPIA — Sen. Brad Hawkins officially pre-filed legislation today to allow local governments in Chelan and Douglas counties to partner together to establish a Regional Aquatic Center and Sports Complex.

Senate Bill 5001 proposes to amend the existing Public Facilities District statute (RCW 35.57) to allow communities in the region to someday seek voter approval to construct and operate an aquatic center and recreational sports complex. Hawkins’ bipartisan co-sponsor is Sen. Sam Hunt (D-District 22) whose Olympia-based district is also considering an aquatic facility.

Hawkins has hosted several meetings this fall with local mayors, county commissioners, regional port, chamber, community leaders, and swimming groups. Stakeholders are interested in locating any potential project in the Wenatchi Landing area near East Wenatchee, 283 acres of regionally accessible land near the Odabashian Bridge.

Development of a facility in Wenatchi Landing would help meet an aquatic and recreational need in the region while also serving as a catalyst development project, potentially leading to significant economic activities in that area, including hotels, restaurants, and retail shopping. The Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority will be administering a 12-month feasibility study to analyze the project and economic benefits.

“Officially submitting the bill today represents an important step forward in what will likely be a multi-year community process, said Hawkins, who serves the 12th district . “I hope the Legislature will grant our area authority to form the district while we continue to thoughtfully consider and collect public input on our future facilities.”

What supporters of SB 5001 are saying:

Mayor Jerrilea Crawford, City of East Wenatchee

 “The Wenatchee Valley has a long history of thoughtful collaboration for the betterment of our entire region.  The Legislature’s support of this bill will give us yet another opportunity to come together collectively to provide quality of life resources for our citizens.”

Mayor Frank Kuntz, City of Wenatchee

“This legislation, if passed, gives the voters of our region a chance to make huge improvements to parks and recreation in our community. Thank you, Senator Hawkins for taking the lead.”

Commissioner JC Baldwin, Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority

 “The Regional Port would like to recognize Senator Hawkins’ leadership in seeking legislative authority to establish a Regional Aquatics Center & Sports Complex by amending the existing Public Facilities District statute. The greater Wenatchee area has many positive attributes; however, one missing element is a Regional Aquatics Center.”

Bob Bugert, Chelan County Commissioner

“We appreciate Sen. Hawkins’ forethought and support as the communities in Chelan County begin to explore the idea of a regional aquatic center and sports complex. A collaborative dialogue and a shared commitment of funding of the economic impact assessment are the first steps of many more to come. It is important that local leaders do our homework, including amending the existing Public Facilities District statute, so voters can eventually make an informed decision on such a large community investment.”

Rachel Madson, Velocity Swimming President

“Velocity Swimming is incredibly thankful to Senator Hawkins for recognizing the need for both an aquatic facility as well as a future sportsplex in our community. Competitive swimming in our valley has been hosting some of the state’s largest summer swim meets at the City of Wenatchee pool for over 40 years bringing in generous hospitality revenue to our area. The creation of a regional facility such as this would allow us to host even larger meets year-round with the potential of higher-level USA Swimming sponsored events bringing in athletes from multiple states. Additionally, a large aquatic center could render additional recreational opportunities as well as swim lessons, water fitness, occupational and physical rehab and lifeguard training programs.”

The 2023 Legislative session begins on January 9, 2023 and is expected to last 105 days.

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