Regional aquatic center would benefit us all

Wenatchee Valley from above e-banner

September 6, 2022

Dear Friends and Neighbors

On September 15, I will kick-start conversations with local stakeholders about whether our communities should join forces to construct and operate a regional aquatic facility. The Wenatchee City Pool, originally built in 1965, has served us well for several decades but is now in need of multimillion-dollar repairs just to keep operating. Initial conversations with our local mayors have led to the point of considering a more effective solution – one that could serve us all better over the long term.

With the aged Wenatchee City Pool facility in need of significant repairs – and considering how much our region has grown since the city of Wenatchee first constructed its pool – it seems prudent for local government partners to consider the best and most sustainable way to support our growing communities for the next 50 years.  A new aquatic center could support our growing communities with regional access to an Olympic-sized pool, zero-entry pool for children, picnic shelters, and potentially a waterslide, splash pad, or lazy river.

Wenatchee city pool

The Wenatchee City Pool, built in 1965, will receive over $1 million from the 2021-2023 capital budget and the State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for repairs to its pool floor. This includes $350,000 from the RCO in 2021 as well as $550,000 in 2022 from a request I sponsored. The RCO recently increased its authorization to the city to help address escalating costs due to lack of contractors and inflationary factors. The city is expected to consider whether to proceed with these repairs next year, given the age and overall condition of the city pool.

Considering a regional, long-term solution

Much like an aging school that is inefficient and costly to remodel, it could be much more cost-effective for us to build a new facility and for partners in our two-county area to explore ways to construct a shared facility. If a regional entity, such as a regional aquatic district, could construct and operate the new facility, no individual local government would need to take on the responsibility itself. Better yet, if local jurisdictions supported the idea of a regional district operating the facility, an aquatic center could be utilized by all community members in the region without concerns over jurisdictional boundaries.

Such an arrangement would be more sustainable because the facility would be supported by a broader tax base and be a more equitable arrangement as no one set of taxpayers would be financially responsible for a facility often utilized by residents outside of their city or county borders. I envision a facility that could be utilized by residents of all ages for such things as swim lessons, CPR classes, community lap swim, senior water aerobics, and family time. Local school districts and swimming organizations could also utilize the Olympic-sized pool for swim meets, drawing hundreds of children and their families to our area. An aquatic facility along with baseball and soccer fields – each capable of hosting a broad array of events and families – could be even better.

Oxford Aquatic Center

A new aquatic center – operated by a regional aquatic district – could support our growing communities with regional access to an Olympic-sized pool, zero-entry family pool, picnic shelters, and plenty of parking. (Pictured above is the Oxford Aquatic Center in Oxford, Ohio.)

Key economic development possibilities

When you consider the combined population of our region, we are actually much larger than some of the communities that already have these types of facilities, so a modern aquatic center is certainly feasible, if we want it. For a community that prides itself and builds an identity, in part, based on access to outdoor recreation, it is surprising to many that we don’t already have such an aquatic center. If located on a parcel accessible to the regional population, such a facility could be tremendously attractive and beneficial to children, families, and employers.

One potential location for an aquatic center would be within the “Wenatchi Landing” area – 283 acres of undeveloped land in Douglas County near the Odabashian Bridge. If a 10-to-15-acre aquatic facility was built there, it would be easily accessible for the regional population and could later attract hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. A larger sports complex would be even more attractive. Such facilities could provide both quality-of-life and economic benefits to our region. The aquatic facility itself could resolve a current need with at least one major pool facility.

While preparing for stakeholder discussions this fall, I am also examining existing laws and drafting legislation, if needed, to authorize our local governments to take action. Given the unique circumstances in our area with expanding communities, it seems like the time to explore ways to be collaborative.

Updated Wenatchi Landing graphic

The Wenatchi Landing area in Douglas County near the Odabashian Bridge could provide 283 acres of economic opportunities, benefiting both Chelan and Douglas counties. A regional aquatic facility with parking would comprise approximately 10-15 acres but serve as a key first facility that could later attract hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. For more information on Wenatchi Landing, click here.

Recent media and radio interviews

During the summer months, I frequently participate in local radio interviews. Last week, I joined KOZI Radio in Chelan for a live interview, which is included below. I also recently participated in a full-hour interview with KPQ’s Dave Bernstein, which you can also listen to below. With all the competition within social media and online podcasting, it is a tremendous community benefit to still have local stations committed to broadcasting community news. Also included below are recent news articles of interest.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins



State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000