In 2007, the City Council commissioned an aquatics feasibility study, after a group of area swimmers asked the city to consider building a multi-purpose aquatic complex that could accommodate a wide range of aquatic needs, including competitive swimming events. The Aquatics Feasibility Study is available; sections of the large report can be accessed at the bottom of this page.
After looking at the preliminary feasibility study in March 2009, the council asked staff to find potential partners, including other cities, to help fund the considerable construction and maintenance costs that would be involved.
The Bellevue Aquatic Center near Odle Middle School meets the needs of lap swimmers and children taking lessons. It also provides a warm water therapy pool, but the current facility does not meet length or depth requirements for more serious competitive swimming.
The study confirms great demand for new or expanded swimming facilities throughout the region. However, swimming pools are very expensive to build and maintain. According to the study, the more expensive the facility, the less fees cover the cost of maintenance.
The study was conducted to assist the council in identifying current needs and deciding if, or to what extent, it supports the development of an aquatic center.
The feasibility study:
- Explored a range of facility options with estimated financial performance;
- Analyzed the current aquatic market;
- Conducted some preliminary site analysis; and
- Explored a range of potential financing options.
Five kinds of swimming facilities were contemplated, from a locally-focused $19 million outdoor leisure pool to an $80 million national indoor natatorium with an Olympic-sized pool and a diving well.
As part of the study, the city conducted extensive public outreach. Staff met with nearby cities, school districts, Bellevue Community College and King County, as well as the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and the Bellevue Downtown Association. There were focus group meetings with aquatics interest groups and a public interest survey of Bellevue residents.
Significant findings included:
- All groups and organizations identified the need for additional aquatics facilities to serve the Eastside;
- The local competitive swimming community is very active, with 4,277 families being members of private outdoor pools in Bellevue, and 3,640 swimmers participating in 26 Eastside swim clubs;
- Most aquatic facilities are 30 to 40 years old and in need of significant renovation or replacement within the next five to ten years. Some local facilities have already closed or may close in the near future;
- Most area high schools, including all Bellevue schools, do not have their own pools, and rely on other aquatic facilities to serve their competitive swim programs; and
- Growth in many local aquatics organizations/programs is constrained due to a lack of pool time and space.
The public interest survey indicated that nearly half of Bellevue households use swimming facilities and/or programs, with the most popular swimming types being recreational swimming, fitness/lap swimming and swim lessons.
The council reviewed each of the options and asked for more information about facilities that could accommodate local and regional competitions. The council directed staff to return at a later date to further define program needs, site considerations and potential city involvement in this major undertaking, and to seek alternative funding sources, including both capital and operating partners.
At the City Council’s March 23, 2009 Study Session briefing, the Council asked staff to further define program needs, site considerations and alternative funding sources, including capital and operating partners for a regional aquatics center.
There was general support for a major aquatic facility to meet the recreational and competitive swimming needs, though there was concern about building and operating costs. The staff has met with SPLASH and several nearby cities and determined that there is a sufficient level of interest to continue evaluating the idea of a multi-city partnership to address regional aquatic needs.
Staff is monitoring the local aquatics community for changes and is keeping in contact with several nearby cities to continue evaluating the idea of a multi-city partnership to address regional aquatic needs.
Bellevue Aquatics Center Feasibility Study:
- Table of Contents
- Appendix A - Demographic Analysis
- Appendix B - Market Assessment
- Appendix C - Public Input
- Appendix D - Facility Options & Capital Costs
- Appendix E - Site Analysis
- Appendix F - Estimated Financial Performance
- Appendix G - Economic Impact of Aquatic Center Options
- Appendix H - Partnership Assessment
- Appendix I - Financing Options
- Appendix J - A Regional Strategy
- Appendix K - Key Issues
- Appendix L - City of Seattle Preliminary Outdoor Pool Feasibility Study