Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Why does the Sherwood Trust support the proposal for the city of Walla Walla to develop the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center? There are many reasons. Here are a few:
Community. An investment in healthy activities for families and youths of our community should be a high priority -- especially during the summer months. The value of such an investment, like the aquatic center, is clear. It is an investment in our future.
Design. The proposed design features reflect a balance between a reasonable cost to construct and the capacity to generate sufficient net operating income to financially sustain the facility over time. The design is neither a Cadillac (2004) nor minimalist (2006); it hits the sweet spot where the proposed improvements should generate the cash flow required to sustain the facility. A traditional swimming pool simply fails this test.
Proposed Cost. With private sources funding $1 million of construction costs and $25,000 in scholarships, the public cost is $7.12 per month for nine years on a 2011 annual median-priced home for Walla Walla County. In exchange for a well-conceived aquatic center that appeals to all ages and is financially sustainable, this is a sound investment.
Sustainability. The operating pro forma represents the most likely scenario and is reasonable. It is based on comparable operations of similar aquatic centers and passes the test of being financially sustainable by generating a positive cash flow and funding adequate reserves. It relies on local users rather than, say, residents of the Tri-cities.
Alternative Development. To expect a private developer to build a similar facility with comparable daily use rates makes no sense. The numbers simply don't work largely due to the historically low cost of public debt and much higher operating costs facing a private developer, such as property taxes, debt service and profits. Nearly all aquatic facilities in rural areas are municipal.
The proposed project has high credibility and is a wise investment that will serve future generations to come.