Olympia gives residents a peek at proposed regional aquatics facility


In partnership with the city of Tumwater, the city of Olympia showed residents some of the conceptual designs for a potential Regional Aquatics Facility at a special meeting last Thursday, Oct. 28.

The renderings and plans are based on survey research and planning covered under a contract from November 2020 between the City of Olympia and architectural firm Barker Rinker and Seacat and recreational consultants Ballard King Associates.

Survey results

 Barker Rinker principal Daniel Matoba provided a feasibility report on the potential project. Matoba shared that based on their survey results, they plan to include the following amenities in an aquatics facility:

  • Indoor leisure pool
  • Indoor lap pool
  • Party room
  • Multi-purpose classroom
  • Lobby and reception
  • Locker rooms and restrooms


Recreation industry consultant Darin Barr, of Ballard King Associates, explained that the pool area would be divided into six program zones: The indoor leisure pool would span a total of 5,000 sq. ft. The report proposes a play area for children, an open program zone where residents could play different water activities, a “lazy river” driven by a water current and a warm-water lap lane fit for aerobics classes.

He said that the leisure pool begins with a zero-depth area and gradually slopes down from three feet to five feet. Barr shared that it is designed as a “highly multi-purpose space trying to appeal to a lot of different users.”

For its lap pool, Barr shared that the concept includes six lanes, each spanning 25 yards.

Community Spaces

In his presentation, Matoba said that the research stressed the need for a community space. “We believe that these places are not just for water, but they really are for bringing people in your community together,” he said.

The report proposes that the facility have a reception area with front desk staff to greet and assist people with their needs. There would also be a lobby area where people could gather or where parents could drop off their kids.

In addition, the report proposes that the facility would include a multi-purpose classroom that could accommodate 25 students and a party room. The locker rooms would be divided into two areas, one for family use and another for individual use.

Aside from providing indoor amenities, the facility would also have a sun deck to provide patrons a place to sit down and relax.

Price tag: $30 to $40 million

 The proposed facility is estimated to cost $30 to $40 million. Barr also cautioned that operating this type of facility could be expensive. They estimated that the projected operating expenses are at $2.3 million with an estimated revenue of only $1.2 million. Barr explained, “Stand alone aquatics have a very difficult time going ahead and recovering 100 percent of their operating expenses.”

The consultants propose swimming lessons, annual passes, party rentals, competition rentals, meetings, and punch cards to raise revenue. Currently, neither Olympia nor Tumwater have offered a location for the proposed facility.

Other area facilities offer many of these amenities

Neither Tumwater nor Olympia have a public pool, but swimming is available to the public during special hours at both the Briggs YMCA and The Evergreen State College pools.

North Thurston Public Schools have swimming pools at each of its comprehensive high schools, including River Ridge, Timberline and North Thurston, all of which have some programs that are open to the public through joint programs with Lacey Parks and Recreation.  


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