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Citizens Step Up To Support Pool

New pool is the dream

Concern for the city of White Salmon's city swimming pool continues to spill over into the community, and especially at meetings of the White Salmon City Council.

One local resident, Val Parish, came to the Oct. 17 meeting of the City Council and asked the council members whether a local bank account had been set up to accept donations for the pool.

"What is the status of the money for the pool?" Parish asked. "I know a fund is being maintained at City Hall, but the next step is to get it in a bank to encourage corporate donations."

Currently, the city keeps its pool reserve account in Columbia River Bank. But private citizens can't just drop in and deposit into the account. Currently, all donations have to go through City Hall, and the city places it in the account.

Some are calling for that setup to be changed.

"I think the advantage to having it in a bank is that we could invite corporate people to donate as well, and allow them a tax benefit," Parish responded. "I heard that a corporation wanted to donate, but the current policy would not let them donate to a municipality. We need to make arrangements to receive those funds. We want to cut through as much red tape as possible."

Eric Greene, White Salmon's clerk/treasurer, explained that citizens have been generous in support of the city's pool.

"People come in and give us checks," Greene said. "Several citizens have come in over the past month, and to date, $2,800 has been donated. I've been pleasantly surprised. Money keeps coming in, and probably that will get bigger as we get closer to Christmas."

Greene pointed out that the estimated cost to repair the pool is about $33,000, but he added that the city has enough funds available in its Municipal Capital Improvement fund to pay for repairs to the pool. A lack of private donations will not mean the pool will be closed next year.

"We have enough to make sure we can do what have to do to get it running," Greene explained. "The pool is a major asset to the city, and everybody recognizes that. Kids have very few recreational opportunities."

Council member Susan Gookin said the pool contributions could end up going to help pay for a new pool eventually, but that would require substantially more money.

"I'm afraid the amount of money for a new pool would be hundreds of thousands of dollars," Gookin said. "So unless someone out there is really, really generous, the money we get will be intended for repairs of the pool."

Council member Timi Keene said donations brought to City Hall for the pool would not be used for any other expenditures.

"Any designated donation brought to City Hall for the pool will automatically go toward pool improvements," Keene said.

Gookin praised those who are donating to support the pool.

"I was surprised there were donations from the kids at the Youth Center -- that floored me," Gookin said. "If kids can do something like that, adults should be ashamed for not doing a lot more. That amount of money is hard for kids to come up with."

Gookin said she has been trying to think of creative ways to fund pool repairs.

"I thought the extra one percent of property taxes we can ask for each year could be donated to the pool fund. But that's not a very big drop in the bucket," she said.

Gookin pointed out that there has been discussion of creating a "parks and recreation district," able to bring in taxes over a larger area beyond just the White Salmon city limits.

"That would provide a bigger tax base rather than White Salmon bearing all the cost," Gookin explained. "Kids come in from other areas; it's not just White Salmon kids who use the pool. That way, it would feel like the pool belonged to everybody. Long-term, that's probably the way to do it."

Steve Wolford, owner of Antiques & Oddities in Bingen, donated $1,000 to the pool repair fund last week.

"Everybody I've talked to is very enthusiastic," Wolford said. "The pool is a wonderful thing for our community. I gave it to the city to try to get the ball rolling."

Wolford added that he has discussed the pool issue with the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce, to see if local business owners can set up a drive to help out.

Marsha Holliston, manager of the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce, said the organization would discuss ways to support the pool during a Chamber meeting set for Nov. 8. However, she noted that at this point there are no solid plans on how the Chamber might be able to assist.

Wolford said he was pleased to hear the city already has nearly $3,000 in private donations.

"With everybody working together, we could put together a bigger and better pool; maybe a covered pool we could use all year," Wolford said.

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