WS pool project advances to pricing phase

White Salmon’s swimming pool project has moved into a new phase: estimating the cost of building the pool design selected by the City Council on Jan. 4.

A full council quorum voted to proceed with a cost estimate in preparation for November bond levy and maintenance and operations levy elections.

The design and site plan option favored by members of the Pool Committee and selected by the council calls for traditional, utilitarian elements.

The selected design has been forwarded to the city’s pool consultant, Yost Grube Hall Architec-ture, for pricing.

Two messages resonated during the public hearing on Jan. 4.

City Councilor Tao Berman voiced his concern that the city was proceeding with a project city taxpayers alone might not be able to afford.

“I think that’s something we should keep in mind,” Berman said, before pointing out that, based on his understanding of the finances, taxpayers will be responsible for around $400,000 per year in debt service and M&O expenses.

“That’s a lot of expense for a population of 2,500 people,” he said.

Former Pool Committee Chair-person Karen Skiles issued a “call to action” to the council.

In an e-mail to the council, she stated, “One message that needs to get across tonight is that the Pool Committee cannot do all of this public information and fundraising on its own. If people want to see the community continue to have a pool, they are going to have to step forward and help so that this opportunity and all of our progress is not lost.”

Clerk/Treasurer Leana Johnson, the city’s point person for the pool project, said the discussion regarding the scope of the project was constructive.

“Most council members are supportive of the feedback they have received from the public and committee regarding the current scope of the project, as outlined in the drawing,” Johnson said. (See pool site plan at right.)

She added, “They are comfortable going forward with gathering the cost information and putting together a bond and maintenance and operations levy package that will need to be approved by voters to get the project off the ground.”

To address the question of a sufficient tax base to support pool debt service and M&O, the council asked the Pool Committee to look at expanding the local tax base through a Metropolitan Park Dis-trict that would incorporate areas surrounding White Salmon into a larger taxing entity.

“Our end goal is to get a pool that serves the needs of our diverse population in an economic manner,” Johnson said. “The plan is to eventually cover the pool as part of a second phase of this project, in 10 or 20 years, maybe earlier, depending on community needs.”

Skiles was among a number citizens who offered input during the council’s Jan. 4 public hearing that provided residents an opportunity to comment on two proposed pool designs.

Skiles addressed the three design questions put to the Pool Committee and members of the public: therapy pool or no therapy pool, bathhouse design style, and splash pad type.

Skiles said she personally wants to see the therapy pool included, but noted it could be “itemized for removal if necessary to make the project affordable.”

“Our last committee discussion suggested allowing space for future addition of the therapy pool and I support that idea,” she wrote.

Concerning the bathhouse style, Skiles stated the committee favored a combination of utilitarian (cheapest) and traditional elements. “Just enough wood and stone to make it attractive,” she wrote.

Skiles further noted that she supported a natural splash pad, vs. a whimsical one, because “it encourages imagination and keeps kids engaged better.”

Others giving input indicated support for White Salmon recreation to be independent of Hood River, shade structures within the pool compound, an analysis of a chlorine cleaning system versus a saline (saltwater) cleaning system, such amenities as a slide, and inclusion of anchors for a future roof.

Moreover, while the selected site plan depicts certain traffic revisions on the streets surrounding the pool site, those improvements “will probably take place independent of the pool construction and levy request,” Johnson said.

Street improvements included in the construction cost include installation of curbs and sidewalks on the east and south sides of the property.

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