$24 million indoor facility may appear on November ballot

The fate of West Linn’s aquatic park proposal may soon arrive in the hands of the voters.

Results from the city’s aquatic center poll were presented during Monday’s city council meeting, showing tepid support for the construction of an indoor facility located on city-owned property near Tanner Creek Park.

In response, council members directed city staff to begin drafting a resolution to ask voters to fund the proposal on the November election ballot.

The $24 million indoor recreation center would feature a pool with “aquatic park-like features” as well as a gym, running track, classrooms and fitness areas.

According to Tom Eiland, a partner at CFM Strategic Communications who conducted the survey, polling showed that residents favored the more expensive indoor facility as opposed to a $9 million outdoor aquatic park, which would have a pool with similar aquatic park features but would operate only during the summer months.

The indoor proposal was supported by 54 percent of the phone polls and 66 percent of the Web responses, while the outdoor park came in at 47 and 51 percent respectively.

“Even though the (outdoor) proposal costs less,” Eiland said, “there’s something about the features that we described that people don’t like as much.”

But a closer look at the polling — which involved 300 phone surveys between April 20 and 21 as well as 834 online community surveys from April 25 to May 1 — showed that support for even the indoor proposal declined as voters learned more about the project.

Where 66 percent of online respondents were initially supportive of the indoor facility, only 52 percent provided “informed support” after obtaining more details. Support saw a somewhat lesser drop, from 54 to 49 percent, in the phone surveys.

“Frankly, this is a little unusual,” Eiland said. “Something declined, and I think it had to do with the subsidies primarily.”

Indeed, support for the indoor facility dropped to 50 percent via phone and 48 percent online when residents were told the bond measure would cost $152 per year on a home assessed at $285,000. Furthermore, support plummeted to 30 percent when residents were told the facility would operate at a deficit and require a $75,000 annual subsidy.

In all, residents between the ages of 18 and 44 years were most favorable to the proposal, with 68 percent of phone respondents and 73 percent of online respondents expressing informed support.

Those in the 65-plus age demographic were much less enthusiastic about the project, with just 35 percent providing informed support in both the phone and Web polls.

Support levels were also sharply divided between households with and without children.

More than 60 percent of households with children expressed informed support for the indoor facility, while that number dropped below 45 percent in homes without children.

The survey report concluded that the outdoor facility likely did not have enough support to move forward, while an indoor aquatic center would depend on voter turnout in November.

“It is too close to call whether the indoor proposal would pass or not,” the report read. “The outcome rests on who votes in the election.”

Of course, the proposal still has to be placed on the ballot before voters decide anything. Councilors Jenni Tan and Jody Carson were vocal in supporting a resolution to do just that.

“It’s about letting the community decide,” Tan said. “This is not a council decision. ... You can come out and say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ ”

City Manager Chris Jordan said that the earliest date for the resolution to come before council would likely be in early July, but no official date has been set yet.

To learn more about the proposed aquatic center, visit