15 years after the 1998 bond to secure land for the Aquatic Center, this council put a measure on the ballot for the voters to decide. This community value dates back 40+ years and is one that has been studied multiple times. Below are my remarks from last night’s council meeting. I’d like to highlight one important fact — the City purchased Parker Road in 2010 and we currently have debt on the property. Our annual debt payment is $114,000. The aquatic and recreation center, as proposed, will operate at a $75,000 loss. If the bond is passed, the property will be paid off and the operational expenditure will be less then our current debt payments, thus resulting in net savings.
Text of speech:
I come to this desk conflicted about the aquatic center. It has been a long windy road for all the proponents; however, we still have serious concerns we need to address in West Linn. On kitchen tables for the last several years, families have separated their budgets into two categories – needs and wants. In this councilor’s mind, this is clearly a want.
The needs still exist in our community – aging and breaking water pipes, street improvements, sidewalk and pathway connections, just to name a few. If the aquatic center is placed on the ballot and does pass, that does not mean our needs go away. If fact, this councilor will fight hard to get them addressed. I am also concerned the economy hasn’t recovered adequately. The last time we met in this very chamber, we passed a budget that decreased our FTEs for the next two years. I know the parks department is optimistic they will be able to achieve a budget neutral model, however when I survey other aquatic centers nearby, none them have been successful in achieving this goal.
So what does that potentially mean for us? More prioritization. We have done more with less, and our new budget is just doing less. I am concerned what further programs or services will be potentially impacted in the future. With that being said, the aquatic center has a long history in West Linn. In 1998, the residents passed a bond to help locate and secure a site. Since then there have been surveys, models, and even an advisory vote in 2004. I am absolutely convinced every angle has been explored, every question asked, and no pebble left unturned. After years of hard work we sit here doing something no council has done before… looking at finally putting a bond to the voters…nearly 15 years after the 1998 bond . The proponents have a strong team of talented individuals who have kept working on this issue and show passion and dedication. My hope is that I will be able to recruit each of you for the less glamorous issues like pipes and roads.
I have said it before and I will say it again, our parks are our strongest asset. I am continually amazed how many individuals and families travel to West Linn to enjoy them. I have met families from Wilsonville, Tualatin, Portland, Happy Valley, Vancouver, and even Salem. Adding the aquatic center to our Parks has the potential to further enhance the draw to our community. Bringing people and families into our community gives our businesses increased revenue as they look for a place to eat or shop. Later, when they will be in the market for a home, West Linn will be on the top of their list. Let there be no doubt, strong parks enhance our community. This aquatic development has the potential to do just that and also align itself with another one of our council goals, economic development.
I would like to thank the hard and dedicated work from the aquatic task force as they have spent the better part of the last three years working diligently to finally have a motion before us tonight.