Parks, or rather the lack thereof, has long been an issue in Maple Valley.
Despite growing up just outside Maple Valley this was something I was completely unaware of until two years ago when I started spending a lot of time in the city.
As a swim team kid who spent almost as much time at the pool as at school, there wasn’t much reason for me to come to Maple Valley; after all, there is no pool here.
Yes, pools are expensive to maintain and run, but other cities and groups have proven that it can be done successfully. There’s an opportunity lost if the idea of working a pool into the city’s plans for a community center — or elsewhere in the community — isn’t seriously considered.
Ask any swim team kid or coach and they’ll tell you that pool time is precious.
There is a notable lack of pool space in the area, and that has an effect on the swimming community.
For high schoolers who want to be on a club team the closest options are in Issaquah, Federal Way, Bellevue and Mercer Island. The Midlakes summer swim league doesn’t have any teams in Covington, Maple Valley or Black Diamond. The closest options are in Fairwood, Kent and Renton. The high school teams have to share the limited lanes after school. Kentlake and Tahoma use Covington Aquatic Center and the Kentwood teams practice at the pool located at Kent-Meridian High. Kentwood’s water polo team often plays and practices late in the evening because it’s the only time they can get in the water.
And there’s free swim, and swimming lessons, diving, and other aquatic fitness classes that would be available to the entire community, as well as water safety education and the possible employment opportunity for teenagers as lifeguards. When talk about fields comes up one of the points in favor of finding a way to build more fields is that fields bring in tournaments, which bring in people and, in turn, revenue. Pools can do that to. I imagine if a club team was willing to expand out here it could draw kids from the surrounding communities of Kent and Fairwood as well as Renton proper. If a pool was built with the capacity to host club swim meets that could bring hundreds of families to the community over the course of a weekend.
There’s a void in the swimming community that could be filled if there was more pool space available.
Of course, the idea raises a lot of questions, and it would likely require an outside partnership to help shoulder the cost and run the pool. It’s a blue sky kind of idea, but they’re questions worth asking.