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School district takes over pool

Mary Wayte Pool will be operated by Olympic Cascade Aquatics. OCA works with the Mercerwood Shore Club and the Mercer Island Country Club swim programs. - Chad Coleman/Staff Photo
Mary Wayte Pool will be operated by Olympic Cascade Aquatics. OCA works with the Mercerwood Shore Club and the Mercer Island Country Club swim programs.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Staff Photo

As of Jan. 1, Mary Wayte Pool will be the property of the Mercer Island School District.

“We now have a pool,” said Superintendent Gary Plano after the vote.

Facing the loss of its current pool operator in just a few weeks, the MISD board of directors voted unanimously to approve a new agreement with Olympic Cascade Aquatics to maintain and operate the pool, at their regularly scheduled board meeting on Dec. 16.

Both the school district and the city agreed that the pool needed to be kept available to Islanders — at least for the time being.

The pool, built in 1967, was built with Forward Thrust bond funds on land leased from MISD. The county operated and maintained the pool until February 2003, when it transferred its leasehold interests in the pool to the Northwest Center, which continued to operate the pool until recently. NWC notified Plano in October that it would no longer operate the pool after the end of the year.

OCA’s contract to maintain the pool begins Jan. 1, 2011.

The pool needs costly repairs now. Plano said the district has agreed to make needed repairs in the first 90 days of the agreement, the costs of which are included in the capital funds held by NWC.

Plano said it is his understanding that there is $62,000 in the fund, which should cover the repairs.

Those repairs include ADA-compliant restrooms, compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, diving board replacement, valve replacements as specified and pool liner repairs.

“In the event of catastrophic failure, then [we will know] Mary Wayte Pool has reached the end of its useful life,” Plano said.

A committee of 19 community members calling itself the 21st Century Facilities Planning Committee, is looking at the alternatives for both the pool and the property if the pool is closed.

In the meantime, OCA will provide programs and hours of operation reasonably similar to those programs and hours currently provided by NWC for current users of the pool, subject to OCA’s reasonable discretion to modify programs to meet community needs, the proposal says.

The Mercer Island High School aquatics teams will have exclusive use of the pool as is presently scheduled with NWC.

OCA is to provide quarterly reports to the district regarding the maintenance and operation of the pool.

The operating subsidy from the city will pay OCA a monthly stipend of $8,333.33. The district will establish a capital expense and repair fund annually in the amount of $25,000 including in-kind expenses, which comes from the district’s capital maintenance fund, the fund used to maintain all of their facilities.

If the pool is not maintained or repaired adequately, the district and OCA have agreed to work in good faith to find adequate funding to address the needs of the pool and community.

In other school board news, board president Adair Dingle passed the president’s gavel to Lisa Eggers, who had been vice president. The newly elected vice president is Pat Braman.

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