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City, council ready to sign pool transfer

By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

The transfer of two popular recreational properties - the local swimming pool and golf course - from King County to the city of Enumclaw is expected to clear two significant hurdles Monday.

The agreement will be the subject of a public hearing before the King County Council at 1:30 p.m., and will then be addressed at 7:30 p.m. when the Enumclaw City Council swings into action.

City officials intend to testify at the afternoon hearing, speaking favorably of the arrangement. The 13-member County Council could take action immediately following the public hearing. The Enumclaw City Council will consider the transfer for final approval Monday night.

The governmental maneuvering is among the final steps needed to shift ownership of the two attractions, along with the archery-friendly Sportsman's Park, from the county to the city. The idea was kicked around for the better part of a year, and Enumclaw voters agreed in February to increase their property taxes to turn the concept into reality.

Nothing dramatic is expected to occur at the last minute, as both sides have agreed to the details, and the transfer of ownership is slated for April 1. Visitors to any of the three facilities should experience nothing out of the ordinary during the transition.

There are just a few unresolved issues still on the table, but none should impede the transfer of the properties, according to Mark Bauer, Enumclaw city administrator. For example, the county has agreed to fork over $50,000 to pay for capital improvements to the pool and has said the sum will be paid over the course of two years; the city would prefer the entire amount up front, but isn't looking to force the issue. Also, there's a property ownership issue to be cleared up, as Weyerhaeuser owns bits of property on two of the golf course's 18 holes. The transfer can move ahead, Bauer said, while the county and the timber company settle the issue.

One phrase in the transfer agreement that caught the city's attention noted that county residents should be treated equally after the city takes ownership of the pool, which was contrary to the city's notion that Enumclaw residents should pay less. City officials contend that Enumclaw residents are supporting the pool operation with their tax dollars and, therefore, deserve a break on admission costs. The city is planning on dropping the entry fee for residents after taking ownership.

The entire issue sprang from the county's decision last year to either transfer, or mothball, a number of its attractions. On the chopping block was the Enumclaw pool, which sits on ground leased from the Enumclaw School District. After months of study and debate, the city put the matter before local voters, who gave a resounding show of support (87 percent) for keeping the pool open, raising their property tax rates to make it happen.

The pool is expensive to operate, so the county agreed to hand over the golf course, too. The golf course makes money every year, and the majority of the profits will subsidize the pool operation.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com

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