View Full Version : Help Keep Pools Open In the Seattle Area

May 23rd, 2002, 10:43 AM
King County, Washington, has threatened to close pools and parks to help overcome budget shortfalls. Included in the list of possible closures is the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. The Aquatic Center has hosted three USMS National Championship meets.

Please visit King County Executive Page (http://www.metrokc.gov/exec/) to vote in the on line poll for the one recreational facility that you use most. Wednesday morning only 2% of those responding were pool advocates!! The off leash dog proponents who are very well organized had a huge lead in 71% of respondents. Since then swimming pool advocates have given pools a significant lead. Let our voice be heard, visit the site today! The poll will change at noon Friday morning, so please vote now.

As you may have heard, due to budget shortfalls in King County, there is movement by King County to close pools and parks. This is a threat to our sport and to the quality of life we all enjoy in the metropolitan King County area. Public forums on this issue sponsored by the Metropolitan Parks Task Force were held May 13th at Redmond High School Little Theater and on May 15th at the Lake Wilderness Community Center. On the King County site mentioned above there is a link to view these forums.

King County Executive Page (http://www.metrokc.gov/exec/)

Ion Beza
May 23rd, 2002, 11:35 AM
I just voted for swimming pools.

One such pool, King County Aquatic Center, is awesome.

May 23rd, 2002, 04:07 PM
Wow! As of my vote, there were over 3900 swimmers responding! We win! :p Or at least, I hope so. Good luck pools!


May 23rd, 2002, 09:13 PM
I just voted and the swimming pool was winning by 62% of the vote which was far exceeding anything else. The FW pool is the best thing on the west coast and allot of other places also. They can't close it down. Plz everyone vote before Friday. U will be so glad u did and the whole west coast thanz u also.

May 24th, 2002, 06:33 AM

While I certainly agree with keeping pools open, I chose not to cast a vote.

It appears to be a poll intended to gather information from King County residents. If I was a King County resident and he local officials took action based on responses from all over the country, I'd be pretty hacked. Think of it this way - if a similar poll was being taken in YOUR county and basketball players from all over the country encouraged your local officials to keep all the basketball facilities open instead of the pools, how would you feel?

I suspect that all responses from people NOT in King county will be ignored anyway.

Tom Ellison
May 24th, 2002, 10:08 AM
Aww shucks Emmett, don't be a stick in the mud...Of coarse your right..and...as always... make a very good point. BUT, with all the hammering swimming gets from all sides, (men's college swimming, closed pools, hot pools, no lanes, poor swim times, lack of pools...and many more) what does a little vote stuffing hurt?
You are right though...but sometimes right is wrong....or is that wrong is right...;)

May 24th, 2002, 10:47 AM
Properly mobilized, I would think that the swimmers in King County would be able to swing the vote all by themselves. But if it becomes evident to local officials that the outcome of the poll has been inflated by outside ballot stuffing they might choose to ignore the poll results entirely. Which, of course, would be a REAL shame if the local swimming people had, in fact, marshalled enough local votes to win the poll on their own.

I'm sure that if this were an official election, no one here would advocate voter fraud as a strategy to win the election (and I would assume such sensibility would stem from a sense of fairness as opposed to simply fear of going to jail). If we think (or hope) that this poll is actually going to affect local policy, and we are aware that the intent is to get input from local people, then I don't perceive a big difference between voter fraud and running up this poll with outside votes.

Of course, if they had included a tag in there somewhere that said something like "We want EVERYONE's input, local or not." Then I'd be all over my 100+ swimmers plus everyone else on my 800+ distribution list to vote. But, clearly (to me, at least) they did not intend to get my opinion, nor that of anybody else in Texas.

Ion Beza
May 24th, 2002, 11:09 AM
My ballot cast outside of the King County, Washington, counts to me so that when I am in the Seatlle area, I can enjoy using such a phenomenal facility as King County Aquatic Center.

In the past, while not a resident of Washington state, I had been to Masters workouts there, and I had been strongly welcomed there by the Masters swimmers.
(We still share now a memory when at one time swimming in the diving tank without goggles I kept hitting ropes, or when during a banquet after a Masters meet, shaking the hand of a swimmer accross the table made me say "This is like a long distance communication: US West (the local telephone company) is going to make me pay." to which somebody laughing said; "Nice pun.").

That's why I cast: "Keep it open.".

May 25th, 2002, 03:57 AM
I cast a vote as well, although I'm not a King County resident (I live 2 hours from Seattle.) and indicated as such in my survey response.

The potential closing of pools in King County affects swimmers outside of the county. KCAC is truly a "regional" facility that draws in participants from throughout the Puget Sound region and beyond. If you closed a King County pool, you'd take away both a practice venue for the King County swimmer as well as a meet venue for regional participants. (Half of PNA's yearly schedule is held inside King County - and the meets draw swimmers from all around Puget Sound).

The pools are not going to close tomorrow, but this is an urgent situation out here. Wish us well, but be on guard. King County, Washington may just only be the first area to actively consider closing pools. It could happen to you.

May 25th, 2002, 02:47 PM
It occurred to me after I cast my vote that it was not really appropriate per Emmett's point that I am not a resident of King County, but at the time, I was moved by the spirit expressed by Dan. The closing of pools in King County to solve budget shortfalls could serve as a model for other areas, so in a way, we are all affected by this issue.

The website now has a list of comments received on the poll. The list is very lenghthy and full of comments about keeping the pools, so it looks like the King County residents feel as strongly about their pools as a very biased group like US Masters does.

Dan and Hugh, please keep us updated on this.


May 25th, 2002, 03:55 PM
I certainly never expected that this thread would become controversial. The following caveat is listed with the poll: "Because the poll is not scientific, its results are not used in decision making. However, your comments are read by the Executive and/or his staff." The obvious question is why conduct the poll if it won't be used for decision making. I interpret the statement to mean that facility closures won't be determined by the results of the poll. I can only speculate as to how the poll will be used.

Yes, there was "ballot stuffing". That is obvious and pointed out in many of the comments that were submitted. Scores of people provided comments. Many of them indicated that they lived outside the county or even out of state. Even though I am President of Federal Way Masters and practice at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, I live in a neighboring county. I estimate that 30% of the Aquatic Center's regular users live outside of King County. The pool is only about two miles from the county line. Additionally, there are events held at the Aquatic Center on over 40 weekends each year. These events include regional, zone, and national championships for USMS, USA-Swimming, US Diving, US Water Polo, and US Synchronized Swimming. I cannot think of any of the events held at the Aquatic Center that are limited exclusively to King County residents. It can easily be argued that the sales tax and motel tax paid by competitors and spectators to these events make up the operating loss of the Aquatic Center. Therefore, I feel that it was quite appropriate for anyone to vote and comment.

The swimming community became aware of the poll on Wednesday morning. At that time there were only about 50 votes for pools and over 1300 for Parks with off leash areas for dogs. By Thursday morning when I started this thread, there were over 3500 votes for pools, primarily due to email campaigns to the local swimming community.

I hope that none of the facilities end up getting closed. It bothers me that we have to play political games to keep facilities open. I certainly hope that it doesn't come down to the most politically active group keeps their facilities open while the quiet guys lose their facility. I hope that instead the county executives learn that all parks are important to the quality of life.

For those of you interested, here are the results from the poll:

Select the one recreational facility/feature that you value most:

Ball fields for baseball, soccer and other sports 520
Open spaces and natural resource lands 118
Trails for hiking, biking, and walking 201
Swimming pools 4336
Community centers 23
Community and neighborhood parks 78
Recreational programming like exercise and martial arts classes 6
Picnic and play-areas 47
Parks with off leash areas for dogs 1573
Other 23
Total votes 6925

Kevin in MD
May 27th, 2002, 11:43 AM
For a second I thought like Emmett does, then I thought about 2 things 1 the next computer 2. my colleagues in urban planning.

First was the next computer, Steve jobs came up with the techs and Ross Perot had the money. Next was way ahead of its time but that's another story. Next went on what we'd call a listening tour to find out what the education community wanted in a computer. So they went around and made a big show of listening to comments and doing what they could to put them in the computer. The tour was about 6 months before the computer went to market. You don't have to be a computer expert to realize there was no way to put any of the suggestions into the computer. It was all for show.

Then there's my conversation with engineers in a city down south. Currently the city is having meetings all over town seeking input from citizens and groups alike on what is the best way to proceed with a new bridge and a new interstate extension. Fact is, the plans are done; they know exactly how and where the bridges and roads will go, ut they'll keep this up for a while to make is look like they sought the public's input. So that when they build it they will say, we sought input from all manner of citizens.

Likewise, the king county rec department has already decided which facilities will lose funds and which ones won't. This is all for show. So gladly thre in my vote for swimming, if they keep up the act, then so will I.