Will voters dive in?

City of Medford is looking into reducing costs of pool construction if bond passes
Kevin Spohn and his children Liam, 8, and Callie, 6, spend their summers as frequent visitors to the Jackson Park Pool and would welcome a new facility.Bob Pennell

Medford officials are hopeful they won't have to tap into the full $14.5 million that voters are being asked to approve Nov. 6 to build two new public pools.

"If you don't need the whole $14.5 million, why borrow the whole thing?" said Brian Sjothun, director of Medford Parks and Recreation.

What Measure 15-115 would pay for

Hawthorne Park Pool

Measure would fund a new, year-round, 50-meter, multipurpose pool in Hawthorne Park that also would include a small, warm-water therapy pool. The new pool would increase the amount of swim lesson space, senior aquatics programming, recreational swimming and lap swimming, and it could be used for competitive swim meets. Plan also calls for additional parking. The new pool space would measure 13,693 square feet. Estimated opening would be September 2014.

The existing Hawthorne Pool, closed in March 2011 because it leaked 30,000 gallons a day, had about 6,000 square feet of pool space.

Jackson Park Pool

A new seasonal pool would be built on the current site, operating from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The new facility would feature swim lessons, recreational swimming, expanded seating and shade for nonswimmers. It also would have a large slide, new bathhouse and additional parking. The new pool space would measure 6,000 square feet. Estimated opening date is June 2014.

The current pool has 4,350 square feet of water area.

Both Jackson and Hawthorne pools would be accessible for those with disabilities.

Sjothun said if the bond is approved, the city would work with a single contractor on the two projects to help bring down the costs, particularly for administration and overhead.

The figure listed in Measure 15-115 is the upper ceiling on the cost of the projects, based on estimates provided by Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland, Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture of Medford and Counsilman-Hunsaker Aquatics Group of St. Louis, Mo.

The measure would cost voters 15 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a house with an assessed value of $207,000, for example, would pay an additional $31.05 in property taxes annually.

A park fee also would be tacked onto utility bills, adding 73 cents a month ($8.76 a year) to pay the costs of operating and maintaining the pools. Costs to use the pool would rise, from $3 for adults to $4 or $5, and from $1 for children to $2 or $3. Nonresidents would pay a surcharge of about 20 percent more.

Amy Stainbrook, a 36-year-old mother of two children, said she likes the idea of larger and better pool facilities, but still has some reservations about the city's proposal.

"I don't like Hawthorne so much because I worry about bringing my children there," she said. "The homeless community brings in a certain type of people."

Stainbrook said she didn't realize that Hawthorne would have an indoor pool, or that the city is working on a plan to make the park more family-friendly.

"I like the indoor idea," she said.

Both pools together would have 19,693 square feet of pool space compared to 10,350 feet in the existing pools — a 90 percent increase.

Jackson Park Pool would see a 38 percent increase in water area, from 4,350 square feet to 6,000. The new pool would include a large, semi-circular design with a play feature in the center, umbrellas and a larger seating area. The existing bathrooms and locker area, the source of many parental complaints, would be torn out and replaced with new facilities.

Because most activity at the Jackson pool takes place in the shallow end, the new pool would be mostly 3.5 feet deep or shallower.

Hawthorne, which would feature a 50-meter pool, would get 128 percent more pool space, increasing from 6,000 to 13,693 square feet.

The existing Hawthorne pool was closed in March 2011 after city officials discovered it was leaking 30,000 gallons a day.

Craig Harris, a 51-year-old father of seven, said he's taken all his children to the pools, including his grandchild whom he was picking up at Jackson Elementary Tuesday.

He's particularly excited about the year-round pool at Hawthorne because it will provide an activity for children in the winter, he said.

Harris, who has brought swim groups to the pools, said he doesn't object to paying more property taxes. However, he wants to make sure Medford properly manages and maintains the new swimming facilities after they're built.

Kevin Spohn, who owns a house a few blocks from Jackson Elementary, said he doesn't mind paying extra property taxes for something that will help families throughout Medford.

"It would all go for a good cause — not for frivolous spending," said Spohn, a 32-year-old father of three.

His 6-year-old daughter, Callie, said she likes the water slide, while his 8-year-old son, Liam, prefers the diving board.

Spohn said the pool is enjoyed by the whole family.

"We spend five days a week there in summer when the temperature hits 100 degrees," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email dmann@mailtribune.com.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.