During the Mercer Island City Council and School Board joint meeting on Thursday, both groups got an update on Mary Wayte Pool.
John Walker, with Olympic Cascade Aquatics (OCA), the company that runs the pool, presented the operations report for the 2012 Fiscal Year.
“This is a good news report,” said Mercer Island School District Superintendent Gary Plano. “This is a community asset that so many people depend on.”
Walker said the pool doors remain open, which is the No. 1 goal, and it is an extremely busy place.
OCA took over pool operations on Jan. 1, 2011. During that time the pool has remained open and used by the high school swimming and water polo teams, offered classes and extended hours to over 100 per week to accommodate all of its offerings.
“It’s a lot of chaos, but a lot of fun,” said Walker. The pool is also the home pool for the Bellevue School District swim teams, as well as the location for the KingCo and SeaKing postseason meets.
Despite the increase in hours and use, the pool lost $9,817 in 2012.
“The net result is still a negative, but that’s the reality,” said Walker. “It’s our highest revenue in the pool’s history, mostly because of higher use.”
According to the report given at the metering, the pool’s total revenue in 2012 was $514,129, while its expenses were $523,946.
Even with a net loss, the public revenue from pool use increased by 15.2 percent over 2011. OCA spent 2.6 percent more on staffing than in 2011, which Walker said represents about 45 percent of the pool’s overall expenses. Mary Wayte Pool had a 2.7 percent increase in utilities. A major change came in the form of maintenance and repairs, which fell by 34 percent, despite several major projects.
“Repairs are 2 percent of the overall budget,” said Walker. “We’ve had outstanding support from the facilities staff at the school district. They put in a lot of work and the doors would not be open without them.”
Plano said the pool’s deficit has shrunk by half from the year before, when OCA took over operations. He credited that with OCA’s continued work at the pool and on the business plan.
Walker told the School Board and City Council that while they have done a lot of work, there will continue to be work needed on the infrastructure to the pool, and long-term planning needs to be done in order to figure out what is to be done.
“We need to have an understanding of where it’s going in the long-term,” he said.
Plano said the school district hopes to include work for the pool in the next capital projects levy for the district, which would be up in 2016. That money would allow the pool to get the needed repairs and upgrades to the infrastructure, to continue to keep it open.
During the meeting, the two groups also discussed the school district’s continued work toward building a new school. Several members of the board expressed interest in looking at what it would take to build a school near the old recycling center location next to Mercerdale Park. Though members of the City Council said the school board is welcome to study the site, the city is unwilling to give up any park space.
Mercer Island City Manager Rich Conrad updated the members on the continued work to find new homes for Youth Theatre Northwest, should the school district decide to build a new school on the North Mercer campus. While no site has been officially identified, several places may be available for YTN to move. Conrad said the city will have more information about possibilities during the June retreat.
Plano said he knows several of the other North Mercer tenants have also been actively looking for new places, but nothing official has been announced.