Pasco and PFD begin water park planning process

After years of discussion, the planning process for an aquatic facility in the Tri-Cities is finally taking off.

While the Pasco Public Facilities District Board of Directors previously commissioned studies and a preliminary design, the real planning process can now begin after voters approved a $40 million sales tax bond in april.

Collection of the 0.2% sales tax is expected to begin in January. It will come out at 2 cents on a $10 purchase. But there is still a lot to do before its scheduled opening in 2025.

At a meeting this week, the PFD board spent more than an hour and a half trying to figure out where to start.

Board Chairman Mark Morrisette said the last few years of work will help to illuminate the way forward.

The work we’ve done before, I always wanted to use that work as a benchmark if we got to today, Morrissette said.

Since the feasibility studies were done several years ago, the PFD will need to get up-to-date estimates for everything from construction costs to future salary costs.

However, before they can do this, they must decide who will be in charge of the planning process. The board is made up of volunteers who help guide the process.

They are not city employees, but the district has an interlocal agreement with Pasco for services such as legal advice and planning advice.

“We need, as a council, a (plan) of where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” council member Leonard Dietrich said. “Because now we have the horses penned.”

Other board members are Caroline Bowdish, Spence Jilek and Marie Gillespie.

The first major task awaiting them is the ratification of the council’s charter and the interlocal agreement. Currently, they do not have the authority to hire an employee such as a project manager.

Pasco’s Director of Community Services, Zach Ratkai, will remain the PFD’s primary liaison with the city. He said council likely had two options, either hire someone at their discretion or work with the city to hire.

He told the Herald he thought the council’s preferred route would be to ratify the interlocal agreement to work with the city on hiring a project manager.

It would also allow them to offset costs to the City of Pasco for legal services, planning, and other areas.

“This project needs to have 100% attention from that person, whoever that person is,” Morrissette said.

Children play at White Rock Splash Park in Rancho Cordova’s White Rock Community Park in this 2021 file photo. Daniel Kim [email protected]

Park location

The board also discussed potential locations for the water park during a closed executive session. Ratkai said they are looking into whether the PFD is able to complete a letter of intent for a purchase at this time, should they decide on a location.

More recently, an area of ​​the Broadmoor development west of Pasco was considered as a possible site for the aquatic facility.

The board has until July 1 to get the necessary documents filed with the state to begin funding the bonds.

As with property tax-based bond packages, such as those adopted by school districts, the PFD will receive most of the money up front and then use the tax collection to pay off that debt on the 25-year obligation period.

With tax collection starting in January, it will be until around April of next year before the PFD starts to see sales tax money flowing into its coffers.

Pasco Water Park Map.JPG
The first phase of the Pasco water park project could include indoor and outdoor pools, a party hall and more. Pasco Public Amenities District

Phase 1 design

If an estimate of the previous schedule holds, the design process will take about a year, with a bid on the project next summer and a groundbreaking in September.

Construction is expected to take approximately 18 months, which would put construction completion around spring 2025 for the center’s first phase.

A second phase would start in about 10 years using funds from the centre’s revenues.

Morrissette said start-up costs are expected to be around $475,000. Previous estimates put the purchase of the land at around $2 million.

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Cory is an award-winning investigative journalist. He joined the Tri-City Herald in December 2021 as an editor/reporter covering housing and development. His previous work can be found in the Tyler Morning Telegraph and other Texas newspapers. He was a member of the Education Writers Association 2019-2020 and has been featured on The Murder Tapes, Grave Mysteries and Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen.

Louisa R. Loomis