New pool possible with YMCA partnership

David Engle and Jeff Randall
Posted 9/25/19

The Jefferson County YMCA, under the umbrella of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, currently serves primarily working families through after-school care, summer camps, and an extensive summer meals program …

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New pool possible with YMCA partnership


The Jefferson County YMCA, under the umbrella of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, currently serves primarily working families through after-school care, summer camps, and an extensive summer meals program at six locations around the county.

Working out of minimal facilities, the Jefferson County Y has already made a huge difference in our community.

Now the Y is working on a partnership with the City of Port Townsend, Jefferson County, and the Port Townsend School District to develop a fully equipped community wellness center at the Mountain View Commons in Port Townsend—an intergenerational gathering place with amenities similar to Y facilities in Sequim and Silverdale.

In consultation with the JeffCo Aquatic Coalition (JAC) and others, we are working on a design that incorporates a new 25-yard competition-length pool as well as a warmer recreation and therapy pool, hot tub, and sauna.

The proposal includes a mix of reuse and new construction. The existing gymnasium at Mountain View would be remodeled and connected to the new building, with the total size being about half that of the Silverdale Y.

This is not a “luxury facility,” but one right-sized for Jefferson County.

There is only one public pool in Jefferson County. It was built at Mountain View in 1963 by the school district as an L-shaped 20-yard “instructional pool” for its students. Over the years, its operation has shifted from the school to the county to the city as each jurisdiction has been challenged to keep it open.

In 1995, the City of Port Townsend assumed responsibility for the pool and has since made many improvements. As a result, use of the pool has tripled in the last few years. However, even with the increase in user revenue, the pool must be subsidized each year by hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Repairs to the pool’s liner, roof, and mechanical systems may be needed in the next decade. Studies show it could be as expensive to refurbish the old pool as it would be to build new. Do we as a community want to invest in an aging, too-small undersized pool or a new, right-sized aquatic facility?

The YMCA is a nonprofit with a mission to strengthen the communities we serve. We believe that collaborating to build a full-service Y at Mountain View, that includes replacing the aging and undersized public pool, is how the YMCA can best contribute to the long-term health and vitality of Jefferson County. Ys incorporating aquatic facilities are common around the country and have excellent track records of financial sustainability.

The winning combination of the Y’s membership model and the private fundraising capability of the Y’s nonprofit status can make this facility’s operating budget work without ongoing public support. And Y facilities are open to everyone and offer generous assistance to ensure no one is denied access for financial reasons.

What does our community need? A high-quality aquatic facility for swimmers of all ages, combined with services for families, senior fitness, and cancer survivor programs, and indoor recreation opportunities for teens and adults.

The new facility would provide a healthy, safe, and welcoming space for families and individuals, youth and seniors.

Our community can be stronger and healthier through a partnership with the YMCA.

We were proud to unveil preliminary plans for the Y wellness center last month at the Jefferson County Fair. You can see the beautiful architectural illustrations by local artist Mike Kowalski at

(David Engle is the board president of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, active in Rotary and the Port Townsend School of the Arts, and retired as Port Townsend’s Superintendent of Schools in 2016. Jeff Randall is a project coordinator for the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, a 22-year county resident, and serves as a Commissioner for the Jefferson Public Utility    District (PUD), representing Port Townsend.)


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Patricia Durbin

At a recent overview I attended of the “Y” project, funding the construction was discussed. Preliminary financials were also presented in a front page Leader story on August 14th :,63848?#comments

The partnership discussed in the above post omits an important item illuminated in the Leader story….that of creation of a Metropolitan Parks district, setting a recommended limit to tax amount of $12 million, roughly half of the total project.

County Assessor, Jeff Chapman, indicated a parks district “would be allowed to collect up to 75 cents per one thousand dollars of assessed property value.”

Please, in all other discussions and advocacy for this project, don’t fail to highlight what share property owners will be expected to provide. By not including this possible increase you may find considerable opposition to the project, desirable as it may be for the community.

Coupled with the fact that property taxes are estimated by Mr. Chapman (in the same news article) to increase by 8% in Port Townsend and 6% in Port Ludlow, an already heavy burden is placed on homeowners and landlords.

No wonder we have no affordable housing.

(This same comment posted here appears elsewhere in response to a letter to the editor in the 9/25 edition regarding advocacy of the project).

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Tom Thiersch

I say "No" to the Y.

A Metropolitan Parks District (MPD) / Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) levy covering the entire area of the PT School District is unacceptable.

Another funding disaster like Mr. Engle's Salish Cost school is unacceptable.

Extracting even more property taxes from the district, where most people have no need or desire to use a public pool, is unacceptable.

At the maximum $.75 per thousand, an MPD tax would add about $300 per year to the property taxes of the median-priced house in the county, and about $400 per year for the median-priced house in Port Townsend (per and

Any added property tax levy would also impact existing taxing districts, potentially reducing their levy income because of "proration" -- ask the assessor. The aggregate limit for cities, counties and most special districts is $5.90 per $1,000 assessed value, and many areas are already very close to that limit.

Don't be fooled. There is no such thing as a "limited" Metropolitan Parks District.

Once in place, an MPD can operate without any oversight and can increase the levy rate to the maximum, no matter what low-ball, bait-and-switch promise is made on the ballot. Voters would have little choice: approve the tax increase "or else".

An MPD could incur millions of dollars of debt (issue bonds) without any additional voter approval and then just dissolve itself, leaving its debts to the county and city -- all without any accountability to voters. Check out the RCW.

The Washington State law governing the creation and operation of MPDs is RCW 35.61

Function and Powers of a Metropolitan Park District (MPD)

• May purchase, acquire and condemn lands within or without the boundaries of park district. **

• May issue and sell warrants, short-term obligations, or general obligation bonds.

• May issue revenue bonds.

• May petition for the creation of local improvement districts (RCW 35.51).

• May employ counsel, provide for park police officers, secretary of the board, and all necessary employees.

• May establish civil service for employees.

• Has power to regulate, manage and control, improve, acquire, extend and maintain, open and lay out, parks, parkways, boulevards, avenues, aviation landings and playgrounds, within or without the park district.

• Has power to authorize:

o the conduct and manage the letting of boats, or other amusement apparatus,

o the operation of bath houses,

o the purchase and sale of foodstuffs or other merchandise,

o the giving of vocal or instrumental concerts or other entertainments,

o the management and conduct of such forms of recreation or business as it shall judge desirable or beneficial for the public, or for the production of revenue for expenditure for park purposes.

• May sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of surplus property.

• Can annex territory.

** The power of "eminent domain" (RCW 35.61.130).


Saturday, September 28, 2019