Parks looks to replace Ashland pool
The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved a recommendation Monday from the pool ad-hoc committee to replace the Daniel Meyer Memorial Pool.
Director Michael Black emphasized that this is not a promise that the pool will be replaced, because the parks department is operating on a stretched budget this biennium. He said it is now a priority to find the funding and approve a site design.
Staff has estimated the cost for the new pool, which would be bigger than the existing pool, at $2.5 million to $3 million.
The parks budget this biennium is the same as in the last biennium, Black said, so the challenge is using existing resources without busting the budget to replace the pool and to do it in a sustainable way.
“I’ve got some options where we can take advantage of existing resources,” Black said. “As far as I know there’s no new revenue sources being created.”
Black said the commission will discuss a funding plan and site design plan at its study session at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, in the City Council Chambers, adding that he’s hopeful a decision will be made about the fundraising portion and the site design at its regular meeting Monday, Oct. 28.
The recommendation calls for increasing the size of the pool from 25 yards by 40 feet to 25 yards by 25 meters, including an attached recreation/therapy alcove. One of the ends would be deepened to 6-8 feet deep. The pool would stay in the same location.
The ad hoc committee met once a month over the course of a year, took surveys within the community, held two public listening sessions to gather information about the needs and wants of pool users, and investigated other locations.
During the ad hoc process the pool began to rapidly deteriorate this summer, ultimately causing an early closure to the summer swim season due to hazards created by the failing pool surface, according to a staff report.
“We did see a lot more deterioration this summer than we have in past summers,” said Recreation Superintendent Rachel Dials. “Plaster coming up and floating to the top of the pool. I mean this pool is 36 years old.”
The pool is now empty and receiving a temporary fix so the Ashland and Phoenix/Talent school districts can use it for their winter swim team season.
Ad hoc vice chair Rebecca Kay said the pool started getting a lot more use by community groups after the Southern Oregon University pool closed in 2015. The only other public pool in the Rogue Valley is Jackson Pool in Medford, which is barely functioning and leaks about 3,000 gallons of water a day, according to a Mail Tribune article.
Black said the Ashland pool sees about 13,500 users a year. The pool offers programs for all ages to people all over the valley — from swim lessons to senior water aerobics — but with the expansion, it could offer more programs to more people.
Kay is the president of Southern Oregon Aquatic Community. She said SOAC will take over the pool campaign now that the ad hoc has fulfilled its mission and been disbanded.
Dials said the normal life of a pool is between 35 and 40 years.
The extensive repairs are starting to add up.
Daniel Meyer Memorial Pool opened in 1984, with funding spearheaded by a local resident who wanted to make sure all Ashland children learned to swim, according to the city website.
SOAC, a nonprofit organization, will help with fundraising efforts for the new pool.
“We’ll be reaching out to everyone in the Rogue Valley,” Kay said.
To donate to the new pool and for more information, see the SOAC website at southernoregonaquaticcommunity.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at email@example.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.
(Sept. 30:Story corrected to clarify what has been called a "piece of lore among the aquatics community" by city staff. Daniel Meyer was well into his 40s and died of other causes. He did not drown as a child.)