The White Salmon Valley Pool District Board’s preferred location for a new community swimming pool is on property owned by the White Salmon Valley School District, between NW Loop Road and the Sharon E. Schalk Transportation Center. The Pool Board arrived at this consensus during a June 6 special meeting. A week before striking that consensus, however, the Board had submitted an application to the Klickitat County Planning Department for a conditional use permit to construct a swimming pool on the School District property, which the Pool Board unofficially refers to as the Middle School site. The environmental checklist required for the permit application has been reviewed and assigned a Mitigated Determination of Non-significance because of multiple stipulations applied by County Planning Director Mo-chi Lindblad. In other words, the County believes a swimming pool project at this site will have some environmental impacts that will have to be mitigated during construction. No big surprise. Every construction project presents environmental impacts that have to be mitigated, even minor ones.

In any event, the Pool District is moving forward with its project, which will feature a 25 yards long, 42 feet wide main pool that can be split into six lanes for competitive swimming and a separate pool for swimming lessons. It is not at the point, however, where it can retain the consultants it will need to prepare the project for construction. A good chunk of whatever construction budget the Pool Board comes up with will go toward professional services. That’s a given if you want a project that’s up to snuff.

Right now, the Pool Board is operating with a handicap because it is unable to assign reliable financial information to the two-pool design it settled on at its May 9 meeting. It doesn’t help that Pool Commissioners are still debating amongst themselves whether the new pool will have diving boards. That’s a serious handicap for a project the Pool Board wants the community to support through a fundraising campaign that’s supposed to kick off this summer. Potential funders will be dubious right now about pledging money to a project that seems open-ended due to the lack of fully vetted design and construction costs, and M&O expenses. White Salmon resident Tao Berman said as much at the Pool Board’s June 13 meeting during a discussion about fundraising.

White Salmon resident Izak Riley, who works in the construction trade, put it this way: “Nobody can give you honest numbers until you have a particular design.”

That’s the rub. Until the Pool Board decides for once and all what the project is going to be, it cannot move to the next stage of putting accurate cost estimates on the project’s design features. At the same time, we worry about fundraising fatigue. Businesses and people in our community can be generous with their giving, but when is enough, enough?

Taxpayers who opposed the pool would like nothing better than to have the pool built without the imposition of additional voter-approved taxes. But are the Pool Board and pool supporters kidding themselves that they can raise $1 million the rest of this year for pool construction in 2020? Aren’t they putting the cart before the horse? We believe they are, which means the earliest we will see a pool project is 2021, and it most likely will be one the taxpayers of the Pool District have voted to pay for at the ballot box in 2020. By then, we should have “honest numbers” assigned to “a particular design” that the Pool Board supports without reservations. SB

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