A bond measure for a new $40 million pool and recreation center in Redmond will be on the ballot for the May 21 election, along with a five-year operations levy for the proposed building.

The Redmond Area Park and Recreation District Board voted unanimously Thursday to send the bond and levy to voters, stating that the community needed another pool besides the small Cascade Swim Center to accommodate its growing community.

“There’s no question there’s a need,” said Redmond Area Park and Recreation District board member Zack Harmon. “I think this is a challenge worth taking.”

The board also agreed that it was smarter to put the bond on the May ballot, rather than postpone for a crowded fall election.

“There’s no real reason to wait to do this,” said board member Matt Gilman. “Either we’re going to go for it and do it now, or what’s the real point in trying at any point?”

If passed by voters, the bond measure would be paid off over 20 years and would cost taxpayers 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The new building would include a recreation pool, a large, divided gymnasium with two courts, an indoor walking track, multipurpose rooms with cardio and weightlifting equipment and meeting/party rooms. Redmond Area Park and Recreation administrative offices would be relocated to the new building.

The operations levy, if passed, would run for five years and cost property owners 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Taxes would be enacted on those who live in the park district’s area, which includes Redmond, Terrebonne, the sliver of Crooked River Ranch inside Deschutes County, Eagle Crest and areas near Tumalo.

According to Katie Hammer, the executive director of the park district, the proposed building’s new pool will be a large recreation pool with water slides, a lazy river, a spray park and enough room for exercise swimming. This will free up Cascade’s traditional lane pool for competitive swimming, water polo matches and high-level swim lessons, as its water will be colder.

The only public pool in the Redmond area is the Cascade Swim Center, and the aging, wood-paneled facility has to be split between club swim teams, the aquatic sports teams of Redmond and Ridgeview high schools and other recreational groups. A year after Cascade Swim Center was built in 1979, Redmond had a population of 6,452, according to the 1980 U.S. Census. In 2017, the estimated population of Redmond was 30,011, according to the Census.

Bend’s Juniper Swim & Fitness Center added its second pool in 1979, and the next year, the city’s population was 17,263.

The Redmond park district’s plan is to build the new center directly north of Cascade and Redmond High School on SW Rimrock Way. However, that is the location of Redmond School District’s bus barn, so the park district would have to do a land swap with the school district, giving away a chunk of land on the west side of town at SW 35th Street. If the land swap falls through, the recreation center will be constructed on 35th Street.

In August, Hammer and park and recreation Chairman Hayes McCoy brought this plan to the Redmond School Board, most of whom agreed that Cascade was cramped and the Redmond region could use more pool space.

Tony Pupo, the school district’s director of operations, said the school board hasn’t heard from the park district since August, but the school board was open to a potential land swap.

“Further discussions would have to be had and details would have to be worked out, before the board would take any action,” Pupo said.

McCoy said Thursday that he felt confident that the bond would pass.

“(Cascade) isn’t adequate for our population,” he said. “I also believe our parks and rec district has been very fiscally responsible over many, many years, and what we’re putting to the voters is a modest ask.”

In November, Redmond School District asked voters for a $70 million bond to replace the aging M.A. Lynch Elementary, and the bond narrowly failed. However, the region that fiercely rejected the school bond, Crooked River Ranch, is mostly exempt from the parks and recreation district, which stops at the Deschutes County line.

McCoy said the board had paid attention to the school bond’s failure and felt the park district needed to make a push to convince the right people for the bond and levy to succeed in May.

“There’s always going to be a group that says ‘No, I don’t use it; this isn’t for me,’” he said. “But we think there is a group that can use a new facility, and we’ve got to get the message to those (people). We’ve got to get the message to those that aren’t quite sure, that might go for it, and tell them the benefits of why this is important to this area.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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