City wants partners for pool, parking

The City Council has directed city staff to move ahead on pursuing public-private partnerships on a pair of key issues facing the city over the next few years.

The Council discussed investigating these projects, among other topics, at their annual retreat at the Community Center at Mercer View over the weekend.

The Council discussed the aging Mary Wayte Pool and whether or not to replace it or do without a public pool if and when it can no longer be repaired. Next, the city hopes to move forward on finding a way to relieve the continuing pressure on parking in the Town Center, particularly in light of the future arrival of light rail here.

The city has long considered a public-private partnership in the Town Center to expand the amount of parking there. The public-private partnership in this case would include the city, a private property owner, but Sound Transit as well.

According to City Manager Rich Conrad, the city has talked to property owners on a somewhat informal basis about building additional parking at one of four possible sites near the intersection of 77th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 27th Street.

“Our goal has been to find out if there is a potential public-private arrangement to build additional public parking,” he said. “But at this point, it is very preliminary. We would need to be more specific about the type of project we would need.”

The city has now hired a consultant to go further to structure a possible development deal with a property owner.

But time is of the essence, Conrad said. He emphasized that despite the fact that the actual completion of light rail is at least 10 years away, Sound Transit needs to know what city plans are for parking fairly soon to include such a facility in their plans — and their budget for the next steps in the East Link project.

The Council also directed city staff to look further into the feasibility of sharing an aquatics facility with the Stroum Jewish Community Center, which could include building a second pool on property adjacent to the SJCC site.

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