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Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District Commissioner Position No. 5

4-year term; No salary A Parks & Recreation District is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the public parks and recreation facilities within their jurisdiction, as well as the acquisition of other parks space as funds provide and is appropriate. The commission sets the general policies and workplan of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional parks and recreation staff. One of commission's main duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any parks levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget, whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for district employees.
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    Gene S. Achziger (NP) Journalism professor

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    Nancy Kuehnoel (NP) Human Resources Consultant

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Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major issues facing your park district?

Of the three, which one is the most urgent?

What type of facilities do your county parks need at this time?

Phone (253) 941-3785
Email geneachziger@yahoo.com
Town where you live Des Moines, WA
Experience (300 characters max) President of the Des Moines Legacy Foundation severing disadvantaged kids and seniors. Founding member and former president of the Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District. Adjunct professor of Journalism at Highline College. Copy and design editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 26 years.
I stepped down as founding member of the Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District Board of Commissioners to concentrate of encouraging more kids to learn to swim. There are both demographic and economic barriers that prevent many kids and families from accessing the benefits of swimming. When we created the district, the promise was to operate the pool prudently. Today, the current board is taking too many financial risks that endanger the sustainability of swimming in Des Moines. Specifically, the board has reverted to the operating model used by King County that forced it to abandon the 16 Forward Thrust pools as too expensive to operate. It also undertook an expensive feasibility study at the very time it had to renovate Mount Rainier Pool. These projects have drained precious financial reserves and are necessitating the district to go into debt that could have been avoided by acting prudently. We need to be teaching kids to swim, not soaking the taxpayers.
Sustainability, shifting demographics and lack of lifeguards. We had to save Mount Rainier Pool from closure, first in 2003 when King County’s economically disastrous self-operation business model threatened our ability to teach succeeding generations to swim, and then in 2009 when the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression necessitated forming the Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District to provide a more stable funding method. Somehow that lesson has become lost by the current pool district board, which has returned to the disastrous self-operation model of King County.

Since 2003, the demographics and economic health of the community have shifted dramatically. Today our schools educate one third more kids of color and 13 percent more of our kids are classified as low-income. Historical barriers to pools for kids of color and poverty are the twin threats to our heritage of swimming. Lifeguards are the backbone of the entire system and we need to train more of them.
Lifeguards. You can't operate the pool without them and every pool in the state of Washington struggles to find new guards. After serving five years as a pool commissioner, I stepped down to work directly to help make sure all kids in our community learn to swim. It soon became apparent that the erosion of swimming was manifesting itself in a shrinking pool of lifeguards and swim instructors. Without them, the whole structure of educating future generations of swimmers collapses.

Last March I secured a $25,000 grant from health giant Kaiser Permanente to not only help our low-income kids learn to swim, but to train a generation of lifeguards and swim instructors who reflect the diversity of our community. To a large extent that grant was made possible by our fiscally conservative operation model of contracting with a private company to manage the pool.

Today that grant is gone and swimming itself is threatened by a renovation project run amok.

There is no doubt that eventually we are going to need to replace Mount Rainier Pool. But it must be done with an eye toward sustainability. The current board is proposing a $45 million aquatics/recreation complex that the experts say requires a population base of 80,000 to sustain. The Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District only has 32,000 residents. You'd have to add Burien and Normandy Park to reach the critical mass. Expecting Des Moines taxpayers to take on the fiscal obligations of the remaining 48,000 population is unconscionable. Instead of going it alone, the board should be reaching out to Normandy Park and Burien to develop a proposal that addresses the needs of all three communities. And that is going to necessitate locating any new facility in an area readily accessible to all three. Neither of the two sites under consideration does that, thereby hindering the ability to sustain a new pool. We need to return fiscal sanity to this process.
Phone (206)406-3225
Email nnkuehnoel@earthlink.net
Town where you live Des Moines WA
Experience (300 characters max) Eight years incumbency as Commissioner. Over 30 years in human resource management and a masters degree in business.
To continue my contribution to keeping the Mt. Rainier Pool open, available to all people in our community and to improving this 42 year old beloved aquatic center in Des Moines. My experience in human resource management and policy has direct application to Mt Rainier Pool as we hire staff for our Jan 1, 2018 re-opening. I have experience in financial management which also directly benefits the Pool. My personal value system includes giving back and being part of making our community an even better place to live.
Completing the current major upgrades occurring at the Pool by Jan 1, 2018. Maintaining stable and sustainable financial position now and into the future. Developing a long-term plan for aquatics and fitness facility in Des Moines.
Completing the current work underway in a cost effective manor but also being able to do repairs/upgrades that will last for 15 to 20 years.
An aquatic facility that has two pools. One traditional pool to meet the needs of lap swimmers, divers and swim teams. The other to meet the needs of children for swim lessons and recreation, for water-based exercise classes and family fun.

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