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Sandy’s pool upgrades a taste of things to come posted on 09/01/2018

As a steady stream of customers flowed through the doors at the Sandy Aquatic Center on a weekday morning in August, Sandy Community Services Director Tanya Richardson was hesitant to say that numbers of users were up over previous years. She noted it was “hard to determine,” but that lessons had more students (including up to 200 during the summer) and that open recreation time had been busy.

But with visions of a Sandy Community Campus, including a new recreation pool and parks improvements to the property the city acquired from the Oregon Trail School District, the work and progress already undertaken is notable. Since Richardson took her position in March 2017, the facility’s upgrades include replacement of bleacher seating, ADA bathrooms, safety upgrades, designated areas for parties, family changing areas, painting, a new front desk area and even an inflatable course for the pool.

These are the first steps for the city as it looks toward the loftier goal of a Community Campus, a projected $74 million project that will take many years to complete, all while improving the current facility after years of disrepair and deferred maintenance and installing programming that will (at some point) offer sustainability.

“It’s an art, to be able to program and understand what people need and what they want,” said Kim Yamashita, Sandy City Manager, about Richardson’s work. “As we move forward and improve (the pool), it’s just going to get better.”

Richardson came to Sandy after undertaking a similar project in Virginia, where she had three years to get that pool to pay for itself but accomplished the goal in six months.

“The community obviously needed it and we filled the need,” Richardson said. “We’d like to see something like that in Sandy.”

Yamashita, who sees the campus project as a way to provide a destination for visitors, noted that the lack of space is the biggest obstacle for making the current pool financially successful. The current operations are being supplemented by the city’s general funds, while upgrades to the pool’s HVAC and plumbing will close the facility for up to a year starting in the fall of 2019 as part of the first phase of construction of the Community Campus.

Phase 2 of the project will include construction of a new indoor recreation pool, including slides and other features, in front of the current pool building, while Phase 3 will offer improvements to the surrounding park areas. Yamashita noted that the city currently has funding for Phase 1, which will leave the current pool facility “operationally efficient.”

To help pay for the campus, Yamashita sought feedback from city residents on funding options (including a utility fee of up to $8 and a bond) during the Mountain Festival, adding that just one person opposed a bond.

“We might explore that option as well,” Yamashita said, adding that the city will meet with local organizations and hold open houses to get more feedback. “We have a lot of research to do before we launch that.”

Yamashita noted that a fee structure at the new facility would include discounts for Sandy residents with the opportunity for those outside the city to buy a discount card at the same rate of the utility fee to gain the same discount.

The full scope of the project will also see the demolition of the front building at the former Cedar Ridge Middle School, while the city’s Information Technology Department has moved into the bottom of the rear building. Yamashita noted the city is currently out of storage space and part of that rear building could serve as storage, and eventually she envisions an event space, with a patio for catered events, overlooking an amphitheater with seating for approximately 700 people.

“We’re just exploring all of those options and funding for those,” Yamashita said, adding that another option would be to move City Hall to that building and use the current City Hall building for a library annex. “I appreciate the community’s patience and support while we work through this huge undertaking.”

The city will hold two open houses for community input: from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 and 7-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, both at the Sandy Library community room, 38980 Proctor Blvd. in Sandy.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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