Questions & Answers about Regional Aquatic Center-Sports Complex

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December 13, 2022

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

A variety of local stakeholders, including city officials, chamber representatives, county commissioners, port commissioners, and others have been meeting for several months to consider whether our communities should join forces to construct and operate a regional aquatic center-sports complex. 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. With this old facility in need of significant repairs – and considering how much our region has grown since the city of Wenatchee first constructed its pool – it is prudent for local government partners to consider the best and most sustainable way to support our region for the next 50 years.  A new aquatic center-sports complex could support our growing communities with access to an Olympic-sized pool, splash pad, and sports facilities, such as basketball courts, pickle ball areas, and soccer fields.



With the cold winters in our region and poor air quality in summers, stakeholders have encouraged the idea of an indoor 50-meter pool. This asset could support year-round community lap swim, swim lessons, family swim, and senior water aerobics, and host several multi-day competitive swim meets throughout the year, bringing in hundreds of families and generating economic activity.

The timing is right for a regional solution

Many communities smaller than ours already have modern pool facilities and sports complexes. If partners in our two-county area could explore ways to construct a shared facility, the result could be much better, more cost effective, equitable in ownership, and financially sustainable. If a regional entity, such as a public facilities 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 facilities 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 an aquatic 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.


Sports complex in New England

Some stakeholders have suggested a sports complex in addition to a covered pool facility. This option could include baseball diamonds, sports courts, and soccer fields, each capable of supporting community recreation and attracting visitors for hosted events. For more information on the latest discussions, I invite you to read this news article from The Wenatchee World  (12-7-22).

Significant economic development potential

One potential location for an aquatic center or community sports complex would be within the “Wenatchi Landing” area – 283 acres of undeveloped land in Douglas County near the Odabashian Bridge. If 20 acres were designated for community aquatic and sporting facilities, these facilities would be easily accessible to the regional population, including through pedestrian routes, such as the loop trail. If constructed, the remaining 263 acres could soon attract hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. Given the opportunities in our area with this uniquely situated, undeveloped land and the growing needs and populations of our communities, now is the time to explore ways to be collaborative to maximize benefits for both community use and economic activity.

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. An aquatic center-sports complex with plenty of parking could comprise approximately 20 acres but serve as key first facilities that could later attract hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. For more information on Wenatchi Landing, click here.

Frequently asked questions

I am grateful to so many local officials and community members who have participated in discussing possibilities for regional facilities, such as an aquatic center and sports complex. Here are answers to many frequently asked questions:

Which local governments are currently supporting the project?

Local officials and stakeholders have only begun discussing this idea as a group since September but have been actively participating in meetings each month since then. A stakeholder steering committee has been formed for continued review and analysis in 2023. Since the concept is just in its early stages of discussion, with much due diligence still needed, I don’t believe any local governments have taken official positions to either support or oppose the idea. In fact, the project itself (what type of aquatic facilities, sport courts, and ballfields, etc.) is still being analyzed and determined.

What process is underway to study the project’s feasibility?

An extensive feasibility and economic study will be launched in early 2023 to examine all aspects of this project, including aquatic options available in the region, community needs and demographics, revenue projections and operational costs, options for facilities, and community interest. The study’s funding partners are expected to include Chelan County, Douglas County, City of Wenatchee, City of East Wenatchee, Greater Wenatchee PFD, and the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority. An 11-member Steering Committee, chaired by East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford, will host quarterly meetings in 2023 that are open to the public. This is a very important study. No decisions are expected to be made until this study is completed and analyzed.

If a project eventually moves forward, how would it be funded?

Washington state law allows for local governments to partner with each other to form public facilities districts (PFDs). I have introduced a bipartisan bill for the 2023 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 5001, to allow our local governments to partner together to form a PFD for the purposes of building an aquatic center and sports complex. My bill also allows the PFD to support transportation and pedestrian improvements related to the facilities. Under the law, local governments can voluntarily decide to join together to form a PFD and then to seek a modest voter-approved sales tax increase of either one-tenth of 1% (0.1%) or two-tenths of 1% (0.2%). Local stakeholders are not considering a property tax vote to fund any facilities. The sales tax, since our communities receive many visitors each year who can help us pay for the facility, is the preferred voter-approved tax method. The annual sales tax revenue would be used to issue bonds to construct and operate the facilities.

Who determines the facilities and can small cities opt out?

If the local cities and counties come together to form a public facilities district, the district board would determine the size and scope of the project. My hope is that any “district” partners would include at least Chelan and Douglas counties and the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. Participation is a decision that resides within each local government itself (ex. city council, county commission, etc.). If a public facilities district is eventually formed, a five-member PFD board could be comprised of one member from each county along with board members from Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, and a smaller city. The board would then finalize the proposed facilities and seek voter approval. So ultimately, the voters of the district would have the final say in determining any facilities.

Is the Wenatchi Landing area the only possible location?

No, the feasibility study will examine multiple locations. However, the Wenatchi Landing area seems to me to be the ideal location for this facility as it is regionally located with plenty of land available for development. The aquatic center and other public facilities, if located there, could also lead to significant economic development, which would help everyone in the region. However, it wouldn’t need to be the only location of facilities owned and operated by the regional district. The district board could decide to build, acquire, and operate “satellite” facilities in nearby communities, much like our regional library district. This could include smaller pools in other communities, if those communities choose to participate in the PFD.

What about the current Wenatchee pool and other community pools?

Forming public facilities district does not in any way preclude cities from maintaining and operating their own pools. Doing so is a function and decision of the local governments themselves, whether that is the city of Wenatchee, Cashmere, Leavenworth, etc. The hope is for this regional facility to provide an additional option for children, families, and seniors. However, with the aging Wenatchee City Pool – built in 1965 – in need of multi-million-dollar repairs just to keep the pool itself operating, city leaders likely have a big decision to make about the long-term feasibility of their pool. Our region needs to think long-term about the growing public and economic needs in our area for the next 50 years and beyond. With the Wenatchee City Pool aging out and our overall region growing, now is the time to be both creative and collaborative.

Is the YMCA planning a pool facility?

Yes, my understanding is the YMCA is planning and hoping to construct aquatic facilities in their proposed 5th Street location at the current Chelan PUD site, although the status of the 5th Street redevelopment is still being considered by Chelan PUD Commissioners. The new YMCA could include a swimming pool, children’s pool, and splash zone, among other features. I am a big supporter of the YMCA, and I would be thrilled to see its proposed new building come to fruition. However, it is important to differentiate member-based facilities from public facilities and to consider the size of facilities along with the significant needs within our two-county region, especially if the Wenatchee City Pool closes. I want all member-based facilities (YMCA, WRAC, Worx, Planet Fitness and others) to be successful, but public facilities that drive regional economic benefits are important and quite different than member facilities. 

Who would be allowed to access the aquatic center-sports complex facilities?

Use of the facilities would be determined by the board members, appointed by their respective areas. My hope is for the two counties and their cities to join forces on these regional facilities so that costs are shared and taxpayer investments are maximized for efficiency. Furthermore, with a sustainable revenue stream, any facilities district could be free from the sometimes-costly administrative and accounting burden of collecting small, per-person user fees. With multiple jurisdictions participating, the facility could be utilized by all community members in the region without concerns over jurisdictional boundaries.



Many thanks to all the local stakeholders who participated in our regional aquatic center-sports complex meetings this fall. Community members offered significant expertise and excellent feedback during this process. As I head to Olympia to try to advance SB 5001, a study steering committee led by East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford will begin what will likely be a thorough and lengthy community process.


Thank you for the opportunity

Hope this helps answer common questions. Now that the initial stakeholder work has been completed for Senate Bill 5001, the next phase of work will be directed by the 11-member study steering committee, chaired by Mayor Crawford with guidance from the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority. While the steering committee is thoughtfully considering this project, collecting important data, and gathering public input, I will work with local officials to advance my bill so that we can obtain the statutory authority and financing mechanism to take the next steps whenever the timing is right.

Special thanks to our local mayors, Frank Kuntz and Jerrilea Crawford, who have provided me and others with key guidance in recent months. I’d also like to thank the Chelan County and Douglas County commissioners who have been active participants in these initial exploratory efforts. The Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority and its staff have also been very helpful to launch the feasibility study of this regional, economic development project. Lastly, I’d like to extend much gratitude to all of the local officials and community stakeholders who have participated in our meetings this fall. This region belongs to us – the people – and we collectively are responsible for its health and success.

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