No pool like an old pool

Removing Hawthorne Pool didn't make the priority list, but it needs to be done

Medford Parks and Recreation Commission members have laid out their priorities for spending $1 million in urban renewal money set aside for improvements to Hawthorne Park. Adding things such as a new play area and a dog park is a positive step, but the commission also should consider removing something.

We speak of the abandoned swimming pool taking up space in the center of the park.

A new swimming pool would have been the best possible improvement for the park, but voters turned down a bond measure that would have paid for it, along with a new Jackson Pool on the west side of town.

It was understandable, given that rejection, that parks commissioners rated a pool at the bottom of their priority list. But meanwhile, there sits the eyesore that is the old Hawthorne Pool.

City officials shut down the pool in 2011 because it was leaking 30,000 gallons of water a day. Built in 1950, Hawthorne Pool has outlived its useful life.

The voters have said they don't want to pay for a new pool. The city may eventually come back with another proposal for a new pool, but in the meantime, parks commissioners should consider taking out the old one.

Hawthorne Park is a magnet for homeless people because of its central location. Many city residents tend to avoid the park for that reason.

The list of priorities approved last week is designed to attract more families to the park by adding amenities such as a modern playground, a dog park and added parking on the north side. Improved lighting and a splash pad are also on the list.

It's likely that removing the old pool would take too much of a bite from a $1 million urban renewal grant. The job would involve major excavation.

Maybe a portion of the $1 million could be set aside for removing the pool and the rest could be found elsewhere.

Digging up the old pool isn't as exciting as building a new playground, but putting off this chore will only serve to diminish the value of the improvements on the Parks Commission's list.

Those are all fine suggestions, but leaving an empty, crumbling, abandoned swimming pool surrounded by a chain-link fence smack-dab in the middle of the park hardly conveys the message the city wants to send.

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