Following an inspection by Klickitat County and Washington State health inspectors, the White Salmon City Council has chosen to permanently close the City Pool.
The inspection was conducted on April 4 as the City of White Salmon began to prepare the pool for opening in June after committing to funding and operating the pool for one more year. The City budgeted $60,000 to keep the pool open for one more season, knowing that it may need to have some repairs and maintenance done.
The inspection came out with a laundry list of items that would need to be done before the pool could open. City staff initially priced out the listed maintenance and repairs at just above $50,000, but further review by the City’s Public Works Operations Manager, Kevin English, indicated that the cost would be significantly higher, not to mention logistically difficult.
“The cost to do the repairs and maintenance wouldn’t be more than $100,000 but it would still be well over what we have budgeted. Coordinating getting the repairs done themselves would take some time and the earliest we could open the pool would be early July,” said English.
The necessary maintenance and repairs would be:
- Sandblasting, resurfacing and repainting the pool.
- Replacing locker room wall and floor tiles.
- Repairing cracks in pool and pool deck, requiring extensive cleaning and resealing.
- Modifications to security fencing, there has been evidence of people climbing over the fence to get into the pool.
- Rerouting of electrical ground wires that are now attached to shower pipes in the women’s locker room.
- Replacing protruding safety line eye-bolts that present dangers to swimmers.
- Replacing the sand filter.
- Repairing the solar water heat-er, which is operating at only 50 % capacity and causing the pool to rely on the boiler system, increasing operating costs.
With all of this in mind, and the knowledge that a new pool is to be built over the next two years, the City Council made a difficult decision to close the City Pool as the time it would take to make it operational for just one year is not worth the overall cost.
In lieu of an operational pool for the summer, the City is working on some alternatives for summer entertainment, which includes building a relationship with the Hood River pool district.
White Salmon City Clerk/-Treasurer Jan Brending and Mayor Dave Poucher have suggested that the City could enter into an agreement with the Hood River pool district to provide free swimming on a voucher system to residents living within the City limits.
It has been proposed that the residents would come into City Hall to secure a voucher that would allow them to swim at the Hood River pool and the City would pay for this swim. The City would also process the paper work for residents outside of the city, but within the White Salmon Valley School District boundary, so as to include all of the people who voted for creation of the White Salmon Valley Pool District. The Pool District would then reimburse the City in April 2020 when it receives its first tax receipts. In order to accomplish this the City would need to enter into an interlocal agreement with the pool district.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s something,” said Brending.
One of the greatest losses with the closing of the pool is that it takes away a place for the community to come together during the summer. With this in mind the council began coming up with ways to bring the community together for summer fun.
“If we,re closing the pool for good, let’s have it go out with a bang!” said Councilor Marla Keethler.
Using the $60,000 that was budgeted for the reopening of the pool, the council suggested holding its own “movies in the park series,”or possibly investing in inflatable water slides to have at the farmers market.
“These events could also present great fundraising opportunities for the new pool,” said Pool District President Lloyd DeKay.
Meanwhile with minimal funding, the pool district is working hard to fast track construction of a new pool. It has been exploring site options for the new pool that ensure accessibility, address a number of positive and negative impacts, and could allow for later expansion.
Currently, the Pool District is working with volunteers to establish a major new pool construction fundraising campaign that will begin in earnest in May. Additionally, it is going before the Klickitat County Planning Department on April 30 to determine what technical obstacles and requirements will have to be met.
The Pool District Board is working with other volunteers to establish a rational project roadmap and timeline to help minimize project surprises and delays.