The White Salmon Valley School Board heard public comment with the White Salmon Valley Pool Metropolitan Park Dis-trict over the proposal to build the new facility at the district campus during a meeting of the School Board on Oct. 24 at Whitson Elementary School.
Lloyd DeKay, a commissioner with the White Salmon Valley Pool Metropolitan Park District, spoke in favor of the site, which lies adjacent to the White Salmon Community Preschool.
“I think most everybody would agree that we need a new pool,” said DeKay.
“The pool facility is going to be an important and valuable asset for the school district at no cost to the school… It’ll be at our district cost,” DeKay said.
DeKay explained that the school district would benefit from the pool being installed at the site due to the proximity to many of the schools in the district, opening up possibilities for the district to use the facility for “school-related uses and activities.” DeKay also said the location would allow residents of the planned assisted-living facility the opportunity for exercise, and the size of the property would give the pool district room to add on new facets to the facility, if need be. The site currently has no other uses.
“I think there’s a lot going for that site with regard to the pool,” said DeKay.
Superintendent Jerry Lewis confirmed during the meeting that the public hearing was held in order to gather feedback from the community, saying this step of the process “allows us to move forward to ne-gotiate the lease of the property.” No action was taken during the meeting, but the public hearing was a necessary step to take to then enter negotiations.
Audience members spoke on their concerns for the planned aquatic facility duringthe meeting.
An employee of the White Salmon Com-munity Preschool voiced her concerns over the parking situation that is due to be affected by the installation of a new pool.
“It’s an honor system,” said Lewis about the reserved spots that sit in front of the preschool building.
While Lewis acknowledged that designs for the parking reconfiguration, a project that was approved to be done as part of the bond project, was approved, Lewis said he would open a discussion with Bell Design Company, the contractors who are performing the design work for the reconfiguration of the parking lot to come up with ways to protect the reserved spots for parents dropping off their preschool-age children. Suggestions raised during the meeting was more visible signs communicating the reserved status.
DeKay added that around 35 additional parking spots would be built for the pool.
Brian Morris, vice principal for Columbia High School, raised his concern for financial stability.
“It might sound all hunky-dory right now but it’s not even a year-round pool. How are you going to make sure that [the pool] is financially solvent?” Morris inquired.
DeKay explained that through the perpetual levy approved in 2018 by voters, the pool will be able to operate off that income.
“We’re looking at close to $300,000 this year coming in from that,” said DeKay.
DeKay also said the net operating cost for the old pool was around $50,000, a figure that accounts for expenditures and entry fees.
“So we’re right now funded at close to six times what that is,” said DeKay. “We’re in a very good condition to operate on a seasonal-basis.”
Responding to a question about drawbacks on the location the commissioners are seeking for the spot where they are planning to construct new facility, DeKay said the lone concern he has heard related to the proximity of the pool from the center of town.
According to discussion among commissioners during an Oct. 10 meeting of the White Salmon Valley Pool Metropolitan Park District board, the next step for commissioners is to enter negotiations for the terms of the lease and approve the 2020 budget and the design of the pool. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7 regarding the budget and a vote adopting the budget is scheduled for Nov. 14.