Tonasket workshop set to consider pool options

Input sought from local residents

— Community members will play a large part in whether the City Council decides to try replacing the swimming pool.

A public workshop about the pool will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Tonasket High School commons, 35 state Highway 20.

“We need to have this conversation,” Mayor Patrick Plumb said. “We’re trying to be realistic about what we can do.”

The newly formed Tonasket Pool Committee and the city are co-hosting the meeting, and encourage everyone to attend to learn about the potential costs and options for replacing the pool, which was built in the 1940s, renovated in 1991 and closed in 2011 because it needs major repairs.

Since then, the city has been trying to figure out how to pay for renovations or a new pool in History Park on Locust Way.

“The council has been wrestling with moving ahead or just dropping it and demolishing the site,” said contract planner Kurt Danison of Highland Associates, Okanogan. “Up to this point there’s been no common vision.”

The pool committee — Karen Stangland, Gordon Kent, Scott Olson, Jeremy Clark and Carol Lanigan — formed recently to encourage support for the pool.

“It’s very important to have a pool so kids can learn how to swim,” Lanigan said, adding that swimming also is an excellent form of exercise and physical therapy.

“It’s useful to all age groups,” she said.

The committee’s goal with the meeting is “to have an open dialogue with the council,” she said. “I would love it if a lot of people turned out. I would like the council to see there is support.”

In 2010, the city hired Swim World of Spokane to evaluate the facility, provide a list of deficiencies and cost estimates to correct them, and examine whether the facility could be renovated or needed replacement.

The 1991 renovation was paid for by a grant from the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (now the Recreation and Conservation Office), which required the city maintain the pool in perpetuity. Based on Swim World’s study, the city got a waiver in 2011 from that requirement since the pool was declared obsolete.

“Estimates for addressing the most immediate issues ranged upward of $200,000, with a comprehensive effort to correct all deficiencies costing nearly $1 million,” Danison said. “In the end it became apparent that the costs to correct code-related deficiencies was far beyond what the city could afford.”

The 2011 swim season was the last for the pool.

The city surveyed residents and all students in the Tonasket and Oroville school districts in the fall of 2010. Most respondents said a new pool facility is necessary or extremely necessary. Slides, a diving board, a play area for toddlers and children, and an indoor/outdoor facility all won favor from a majority of respondents.

Plumb said the city again contracted with Swim World, which last fall came up with four proposals ranging from the minimum to get the pool back up and functioning to one that would address all issues, including building a new pool house and making the facility fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Options include:

-New 25- by 75-foot lap pool with walk-in steps, an eight-foot diving board, 10-foot diving well and remodel existing pool building. Estimated cost: $950,000.

-New 25- by 75-foot lap pool with walk-in steps, an eight-foot diving board, 10-foot diving well and a new pool building. Estimated cost: $1.5 million.

-New 25- by 60-foot lap pool with 22- by 58-foot zero-depth play area with water features, new pool building, an eight-foot diving board and 10-foot diving well. Estimated cost $1.67 million.

-New 25- by 75-foot lap pool with walk-in steps and American Disabilities Act access ramp, 12.5-foot diving well, one-meter diving board, free-form recreation pool varying in width from 24 to 40 feet and 75 feet in length with water features, and new pool building. Estimated cost: $2.54 million.

Plumb said the council needs to hear from community members about which option they prefer. An outdoor facility in History Park is envisioned.

The council also wants to know how half the money for such a project can be raised. The city is eligible for funding through the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

“Community members can weigh in on what they’d like to see so the city can come up with a number,” Danison said.

Another factor is how the city will pay for maintenance if a new pool is built, since pool admissions fall far short of paying for operations, Plumb said.

Plumb praised the pool committee members for stepping forward, noting that several of them work for the school district.

“They want it to be there for kids,” he said, noting they work with children in their profession and then continue to work on children’s behalf in their spare time.

The city has received a contribution of $7,900 in memory of city resident Gordon Stangland, with the request the dollars be used for the pool.

The pool rebuilding effort is separate from the Tonasket Water Ranch splash park spearheaded by Linda Black and others. That facility is scheduled to be built this spring in Chief Joseph Park.

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