This week, some 40 residents gave a thumbs up to the latest pool conceptual designs for the Palmer and Wasilla pools. The two 35+year-old Borough-owned pools are undergoing upgrades, to be paid for by a recreation bond approved by voters in 2016.
Among the 40 in the room were lap swimmers, treaders, parents of competitive swimmers, home school swimmers, and coaches. Many of the residents are senior citizens who rely on the pool for health, community, and relaxation. One after another, a dozen residents testified and added suggestions for improvements and followed up their remarks often with "good job." A lady named Julie said "You listened. We appreciate it."
The thumbs up in the meeting room came after a contentious first meeting at the 65 percent design level, where many expressed that they had felt left out of the design process. Community Development's Parks & Recreation Division conducted a pool assessment in 2013. Four years later some of the stakeholders had changed. Since the recent first meeting, the project's contractor Architects Alaska, and the Borough's Hugh Leslie, Recreation & Library Division Manager, reconfigured the conceptual designs to incorporate many of the remarks at the first meeting. The pools are now at the 95 percent design level.
Slides of the presentation by Architects Alaska are attached.
Among the changes:
The Wasilla pool will be upgraded first with the bid on the streets for a contractor in January. The Palmer pool bid will follow in 2019.
Three Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly Members attended, Assembly Member Randall Kowalke, Assembly Member Barbara Doty, and new Assembly Member Ted Leonard.
Kowalke stood up and called the meeting “democracy at work." Doty said she hoped the Borough would have more than two pools in the next 30 years.