Aquatics, Parks, and Recreation 2023 Ballot Measure

Conclusion and Next Steps

At their March 19, 2024 meeting, Kirkland City Council passed Resolution R-5624(PDF, 148KB)  suspending the exploration of a community pool ballot measure and directing staff to develop options for year-round use of the outdoor Peter Kirk Pool.

Following the defeat of Proposition 1 in November of 2023, Council received contradictory stakeholder comments and feedback. Some wanted the City to try again, and others felt the voters were clear in saying no. The Council determined that the decision of whether to try again in 2024 should also be based on community feedback.

During February 2024, staff conducted a representative sample survey, an open web survey, multiple feedback sessions, and multiple focus groups to gather quantitative and qualitative insights regarding the failure of Proposition 1 and community interest in pursuing a smaller, pool-only ballot measure.

After receiving all the survey and outreach results at their March 1 retreat, the Council concluded that while the community does support a public pool, the majority does not support a property tax proposal for such a pool in 2024.

Looking forward, City Council directed staff to develop options for utilizing the Peter Kirk pool as a year-round facility with a priority focus on swimming lessons for young children, and to include those options as part of the 2025-2026 budget discussions. Council also authorized the City Manager via R-5624 to explore alternative uses for the City owned Houghton Park and Ride property beyond a community pool or an aquatic and recreation center.

Post-Proposition 1 Updates

While the November 2023 parks ballot measure did not pass, the City Council and staff continue to hear that expanding swim opportunities is still important to the Kirkland community.  The City is working to understand and balance community needs and priorities for community pools in Kirkland.


About Proposition 1: Expanding Aquatics, Parks, and Recreation

The Kirkland community has expressed a need for an indoor pool for many years. Most recently the need for a community pool and other priorities were a major theme after significant community input gathered through the 2022 Parks, Recreation, and Open Space plan.  This led to the formation of the Parks Funding Exploratory Committee (PFEC) who advised the Council, a community survey to further help understand the community’s priorities, and numerous emails, conversations, and comments at Council meetings.   All of this led the Council to place Proposition 1 on the November 2023 ballot, which featured a community pool and other parks system features. Proposition 1 failed, 41% to 59%. 

What did Proposition 1 include?

What did Proposition 1 include?

If approved, the City expects the capital construction projects funded by Proposition 1 would be complete by 2028, including the following in the first five years:

Indoor aquatic & recreation center operations

  • Initial design for an 86,000 square foot indoor aquatic and recreation center, to be constructed separately
  • Operations and programming of all center spaces, including warm water recreational pool, lap pool, a two-court gym, fitness rooms, classrooms, a multipurpose room, and more
  • $4.4 million design; construction to be funded separately; $2.08 million annual operations to start in 2027

Add 9 year-round restrooms

  • Winterize restrooms at: Crestwoods Park, Edith Moulton Park, Juanita Bay Park, Marsh Park, O.O. Denny Park, and Waverly Beach Park
  • Build new restrooms at: McAuliffe Park, North Rose Hill Woodlands Park, and Terrace Park
  • $7.7 million construction; $390,000 annual operations

Additional park rangers & enhanced park safety

  • Hire one additional park ranger – doubling current coverage
  • Add 2,400 part-time seasonal park ranger hours – tripling current part-time coverage
  • Automatic locking gates at key parks across the community, including: Crestwoods Park, Everest Park, Houghton Beach Park, Juanita Bay Park, Juanita Beach Park, and O.O. Denny Park
  • $600,000 construction; $260,000 annual operations

New sport courts

  • Sand volleyball court at O.O. Denny Park
  • Outdoor pickleball complex with 3 courts
  • $1.3 million construction; $20,000 annual operations

Increased beach lifeguarding & new water safety program

  • Expand Kirkland’s beach lifeguarding season – from the middle of June through the middle of September – and add an additional hour to daily lifeguarding at Houghton Beach, Juanita Beach, and Waverly Beach parks
  • New comprehensive water safety education program including life saving devices at all waterfront parks, water safety signage, and outreach activities
  • $130,000 annual operations

Expand teen services & Kirkland Teen Union Building operations

  • 7-day a week operation of the Kirkland Teen Union Building (KTUB) as a teen center for Kirkland youth with drop-in after school programs
  • Year-round outdoor recreation, life-skills activities, and mental health support for Kirkland teens
  • Daytime usage of KTUB building for adult and preschool programs to meet community needs
  • $460,000 annual operations

Green loop trail networks

  • Acquisition, easements, and development of key segments of the Green Loop trail in the Finn Hill neighborhood
  • $4.4 million capital costs (acquisition and development)

Park operations, maintenance, and improvements

  • Hire necessary staff to support all projects as well as additional operations, maintenance, and improvements
  • $370,000 annual operations in 2024

*NOTE: all costs estimated in 2024 dollars.

What was the Parks 2023 Ballot Measure Initiative?

During the 2022 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan update, thousands of Kirkland community members told the City how much they love Kirkland’s parks system, trails and recreation programs and that they desire more park facilities and recreational opportunities. Kirkland's 2022 PROS Plan together with the City's capital improvement plan, outlines a path for the City’s continued investment in parks and recreation.

However, City Council has heard that many in our community want the City to accelerate the timeline on delivering on what the community is asking for. Therefore on March 1, 2022, Council adopted Resolution 5514 at its March 1, 2022 meeting directing staff to explore potential comprehensive Parks ballot measure options to be placed before Kirkland voters in 2023. In August 2022, City Council re-stablished a Parks Funding Exploratory Committee (PFEC), made up of representatives from across Kirkland, to lead the community input process and provide recommendations to the City Council in March 2023 on whether and how to best proceed with ballot measure(s) in 2023.

This project consisted of many phases and include opportunities for community engagement.

  • Summer 2022: Staff and consultants kicked off facility feasibility study and costing analysis for potential ballot measure investments
  • Summer 2022: City Council established a Parks Funding Exploratory Committee made up of representatives from community groups and at-large community members
  • September 2022 - March 2023: Parks Funding Exploratory Committee met twice a month to learn and review information about potential investments
  • March 21, 2023: Parks Funding Exploratory Committee final report presented to City Council
  • Summer 2023: City Council to decide what ballot measure options to bring to voters and to pass a resolution to initiate the public voting process
  • July 18, 2023: City Council adopted Ordinance O-4857 to submit to Kirkland voters for the November 2023 ballot a levy lid lift proposition to expand aquatics, parks, and recreation facilities, operations, and programs
  • Fall 2023: City provided educational information about the ballot measure
  • November 7, 2023: General election

Frequently Asked Questions - find answers to frequently asked questions about Proposition 1


Parks Funding Exploratory Committee (PFEC)

About PFEC

Parks Funding Exploratory Committee Group Photo - January 12, 2023

The Parks Funding Exploratory Committee (PFEC) was re-established by City Council at their Special August 3, 2022 meeting to lead the community input process and provide recommendations for a potential ballot measure(s) to Kirkland City Council by 2023 including recommendations for capital investments, operating investments, and funding mechanisms. 

PFEC is chaired by Councilmember Kelli Curtis and comprised of over 44 diverse stakeholders that have an interest in Kirkland’s parks and recreation services. PFEC members come from all walks of life and reflect the diversity of Kirkland, including with respect to race; ethnicity; gender; sexual orientation; gender identity; the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability; status as a homeowner or renter; neighborhood; family composition; languages spoken; policy perspective; and age.

PFEC met approximately twice a month from September 2022 through February 2023.

PFEC Documents

Watch the PFEC Recommendations Video

PFEC Meetings and Updates

Date Meeting Highlights
 June 13, 2023

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Additional Input for City Council

PFEC reconvened as requested by City Council to receive an update about potential drop in Assessed Value and provide feedback to Council.

June 6, 2023

PFEC Report
City Council accepted the full PFEC Report at their June 6, 2023 meeting.

May 16, 2023

PFEC Addendum Report
Staff presented the PFEC Addendum Report at City Council’s Study Session on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

 May 1, 2023 PFEC Meeting Topic: Community Survey Results, Feasibility Study Updates

PFEC reconvened to receive an update on the community survey, the facility feasibility study and discuss potential additional recommendations to City Council.

March 21, 2023 PFEC Report

Staff presented the PFEC results at City Council’s Study Session on Tuesday, March 21.

March 2, 2023 FINAL PFEC Meeting

PFEC members held several votes regarding ballot elements and funding mechanisms. Staff will share PFEC results with Council in a report at their March 21 Study Session.

February 23, 2023 PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Collaborative Discussion toward Recommendation

At their 12th meeting, committee members participated in group discussions regarding ballot measure sizing, scope and funding mechanisms. PFEC members continued to evaluate what they want to recommend to City Council.  

February 13, 2023 

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Collaborative Discussion toward Recommendation
At their 11th meeting, committee members participated in group discussions regarding ballot measure sizing, scope and funding mechanisms. PFEC members continued to evaluate what they want to recommend to City Council.  

February 9, 2023 PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Collaborative Deep Dive into Major Components

At their 10th meeting, the committee participated in a World Café style exercise. All PFEC members visited topic tables to ask questions and have conversations with one another as a step toward decision making. There were plenty of thoughtful questions related to equity and economics.

January 26, 2023 PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Investment Element Options

At their ninth meeting, the committee received the results of the recreation facility feasibility study and continued its discussion of potential parks ballot measure elements. 

See also: Recreation and Aquatic Centers Feasibility Study

January 12, 2023 PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Investment Element Options

At their eighth meeting, the committee reviewed potential ballot elements including related capital and operating cost information. These elements build on priorities identified in the PROS Plan and significant community input.

January 9 or January 21, 2023

PFEC Event: Facility Tour

Rescheduled from December 1, 2022.

Committee members will tour the Sammamish Community and Aquatic Center on either January 9 or January 21, 2023.

December 8, 2022

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: WA State Property Taxes, Ballot Funding Mechanisms, Kirkland Budget, & Ballot Measure History

At their seventh meeting, the committee learned about the City of Kirkland budget, ballot measures history, and funding mechanism options.

November 10, 2022

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Parks & Rec 101: Current Operations & Future Possibilities: Recreation and Administrative Focus 

At their fifth meeting, the committee learned about what goes into the City’s recreation programs, classes, and community events. They dug deeper into recommendations from the 2022 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan. The committee also received an overview of population projecting and city planning. 

October 27, 2022

TOPIC: Facility Feasibility Study Update  

At the fourth meeting, PFEC received an update from Opsis Architecture on the facilities feasibility study.

See also: Recreation and Aquatic Centers Feasibility Study

October 13, 2022

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Parks & Rec 101: Current Operations & Future Possibilities: Maintenance Focus 

At the third PFEC meeting, the Committee received an overview of the 2022 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan and an introduction to what it takes to maintain parks in Kirkland. The committee dove into the findings and recommendations of the PROS Plan related to park operations and maintenance. 

September 29, 2022

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Peter Kirk Park and Community Center Tour, PFEC Roadmap, Benefits of Parks & Rec, and Aquatics in Kirkland

At the second meeting on September 29, 2022, the committee reviewed the PFEC Roadmap and toured the Peter Kirk Community Center, Peter Kirk Pool, and Peter Kirk Park in small groups. They also received a high level overview of the Parks and Community Services department structure and funding, learn about existing aquatics in Kirkland and consider future aquatics possibilities.

September 15, 2022

PFEC Meeting TOPIC: Welcome, Overview and Park Tour

The Parks Funding Exploratory Committee held its first meeting on September 15, 2022 at Juanita Beach Park. At this first meeting the committee received an overview of the process including why City Council established the group. The group also toured Juanita Beach Park which was recently renovated in 2020.


Timeline & Milestones


2015 and before

Kirkland Aquatic, Recreation, and Community Center Background(PDF, 39KB)

  • 2015: The ballot measure for a Metropolitan Park District and Aquatics, Recreation and Community Center (ARC) failed in November.     
  • 2014: The Lake Washington School District Capital Facilities Bond Measure failed, leaving no options to repair or replace the Juanita Aquatic Center.
  • 2013: Lake Washington School District announced potential to close the Juanita Aquatic Center. City Council approved pursuit of an indoor recreation facility on the work plan and potential sites were identified.
  • 2012: Community approved the 2012 Parks Levy to provide for parks maintenance and capital investment.
  • 2011: Parks Funding Exploratory Committee recommended investments in park maintenance and capital improvements. An indoor recreation and aquatics facility was tabled.
  • 2007: Indoor Recreation Feasibility Study recommended a 93,000 square foot indoor recreation and aquatics center
  • 2001: Indoor Recreation Needs Survey indicated community need for an indoor recreation and aquatics facility.