An effort to keep the White Salmon City Pool open for at least another year may be in the works.

While the City Pool was not on the White Salmon City Council’s agenda, it became an agenda item following the public comment period, when citizens offered to volunteer their time, skills, and labor to do what needs to be done to keep the pool open another season.

At its last meeting, the council chose to close the pool due to the cost of repairs outlined in a letter from the Klickitat County and State health departments following an inspection of the pool. The City had set aside funds, $60,000, to keep the pool open another season, but the cost of repairs exceeded that amount. Additionally, the time it would take to do the repairs would delay the opening of the pool to early July.

“The letter was very clear on what needs to be done. State law requires that these critical items be fixed in order for the pool to open,” said City Administrator Pat Munyan.

Following a meeting with the Klickitat County Health Depart-ment, it’s possible that only the following items need to be addressed for the pool to open.

  • Complete resurfacing of the pool. (This is the most costly/time consuming of the repairs.)
  • Pool decking needs to be ground down and smoothed out to address tripping hazards.
  • Repairs to both shower rooms, which includes the rerouting of an electrical wire in the women’s locker room and removing the rotted wood and resurfacing the walls with waterproof paint.
  • Plastic slats need to be laced through the chain link fencing around the pool to discourage climbing the fences. Additionally, a bike rack and picnic table need to be moved away from the fences.
  • Fencing near the solar heater structure needs to be secured to prevent people from climbing it as well.
  • Recess the protruding eyebolts for safety lines.

Normally, construction on a city facility has to be done as a “public work,” meaning it has to be competitively bid and the bidders have to provide labor at prevailing wage rates, often one-third higher than local rates. However, City Attorney Ken Woodrich identified an alternative that would allow the city to accept help from volunteers.

Woodrich identified Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 35.21.278 — contracts with community service organizations for public improvements.

“The main gist is that the legislature has approved a way for cities and special purpose districts to use volunteer labor on small projects. The statute allows a municipality to contract with a local service organization, such as community partners, to do the work using volunteer labor, and the city can supply materials, equipment, meals, insurance, etc. up to a maximum of $25,000 for a city White Salmon’s size,” said Woodrich.

“The only catch is that the city must receive a value for its financial contribution of at least twice the money it contributes.  In other words, if the value of the work is $30,000 to the city, it can contribute only $10,000. If the value is $75,000 or greater, it can contribute up to $25,000,” added Woodrich.

This would be on a reimbursable basis, so the service organization has to incur the expense and invoice the city. 

The White Salmon Valley Pool Metropolitan Park District is also identified specifically as an agency that can use this process.

Woodrich recommended that if the council goes through with this option, the service organization needs to identify an individual with project management experience.

Munyan recommended that if the council is interested in pursuing this RCW that they wait for a clarification letter from David Kavanaugh of the County Health Department, so they know clearly what has to be done for the pool to open.

Councilor Ashley Post recommended that once they have clarification from Kavanaugh, the council should hold a joint meeting with the Pool District Board of Commissioners.

“We all feel the pressure to at least try and do something,” said Councilor Donna Heimke.

Pool District President Lloyd DeKay cautioned that even if these fixes can happen, there may be other underlying fixes that may still prevent the City Pool from opening this season.     

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