The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is looking at leading a study on building an aquatic center with the possible inclusion of a sports complex. 

The project would be built on a 283-acre site known as Wenatchi Landing at the Odabashian Bridge and Sunset Highway near East Wenatchee. 

Port Chief Executive Officer Jim Kuntz says it'll be important to narrow down exactly what is being studied. 

"We've got to make sure we have that clear and concise," said Kuntz. "Is it a sports complex slash aquatic center, or is it an aquatic center?" 

The concept for the project was launched by State Senator Brad Hawkins, who is holding a meeting next month in Wenatchee to plot the project's future. 

Hawkins plans to work on legislation that would allow local governments to form a regional aquatics district. 

He envisions an aquatics district where residents could vote on a small sales tax increase to finance a regional aquatics center. 

The current model would propose a .1 percent or .2 percent sales tax for voters in Chelan and Douglas counties to consider.  If approved, it would be implemented by October 1, 2023. 

The .1 percent tax would raise $5.1 million a year in the two-county area, while a .2 percent tax would bring $11 million annually. 

Under current law, local governments have the authority to impose three local sales taxes to fund Public Facilities Districts (PFDs), but the tax cannot exceed .2 percent,  

Hawkins secured $4 million in state funding for the Douglas County Sewer District to be extended into the Wenatchi Landing area a few years ago. He envisions an aquatic center as part of a mix of hotels, restaurants and retail space. 

The centerpiece of the center would be an indoor Olympic size swimming pool (50 meters). 

Wenatchi Landing Concept from Chelan Douglas Port Authority
Wenatchi Landing Concept from Chelan Douglas Port Authority

Kuntz says he knows that Douglas County Commissioners feel strongly that the concept that needs to be pursued is a sports complex. 

"They continue to say...the study needs to be a sports complex," said Kuntz. "If you're going to do it, you do it right. And so that means pickle ball courts, athletic fields and an aquatic center. So, you have everything there." 

The Port discussed the prospect of moving forward in leading the study of the project at their meeting Tuesday, with Kuntz saying he plans to make a presentation at Hawkins planned next gathering on October 19. 

Hawkins stated he wants to include updates from the Port, Department of Revenue, Chelan‐Douglas Transportation Council, and others at the next meeting. 

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