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Pool renovations appear dead in the water for now

Renovation of the Daniel Meyer Memorial Pool appears dead in the water, at least this year.

Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black said he doesn't expect the city to approve the multimillion-dollar project amidst a $2 million deficit expected in the new biennium.

"Things are just about as lean as can be," Black said. "The city is in a $2 million deficit that they're struggling to meet."

An old estimate to replace the pool and turn it into an indoor/outdoor 25-meters-by-25-yards facility came in at $3.5 million, said Matt Miller, chairman of an ad hoc committee formed to evaluate options. But the price could easily change depending on the final decision on the renovation.

Originally the committee had hoped for a bond measure on the ballot this fall, but Black said after presenting the parks budget to the city that isn’t likely to happen this year.

“I think this is going to take a lot more lobbying for the council than has been done,” Black said. “I think the reality is that I don’t see them voting for a $4 million pool in the fall. The other thing is we haven’t entirely figured out the funding.”

Black said there are other ways to fund the renovation, but the cost analysis will come after the site design. He said he’s planning to propose to the Parks Commission that it ask for some money to fund a couple of analyses that would benefit the design process.

Regardless, the committee is moving forward with the evaluation and will continue to gather community feedback on the renovation or possible replacement.

The next community listening session is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21, at The Grove, 1195 E. Main St.

This is the best way to supply the committee with feedback, Parks Recreation Manager Lonny Flora said. Those unable to attend the workshop can email their input to parksinfo@ashland.or.us.

In addition, 2,500 surveys are scheduled to arrive in a random sampling of residential mailboxes sometime the week of March 11, Flora said. An open public survey will soon be available online, as well.

The committee held a listening session Feb. 19 in which it asked four open-ended questions of the 40 community members who attended, such as, “I want a pool where I can ...?” Attendees wrote their answers on sticky notes that were collected and collated.

The most common answers revolved around building a facility that could provide multiple recreational uses for all ages, such as lap and competitive swimming, swim lessons, exercise classes and possibly water-sport instruction courses, including scuba diving and kayak clinics.

Committee member Rebecca Kay said the workshop provided valuable feedback.

“We got a good idea of what people want,” Kay said.

Most of the community response prioritized competitive and lap swimming, but also voiced concerns about parking and traffic in the neighborhood.

Parks Superintendent Mike Oxendine said a swim meet there could bring an additional 200 to 250 vehicles and a couple of buses to the neighborhood.

It was suggested that the middle school parking lot could be utilized, but at this early stage, nothing has been determined.

Member Jocelyn Sanford brought up the need to update the pool house and locker rooms.

Park Commissioner Rick Landt said if the pool house needs to be updated, that would change everything, especially the price tag.

“If we’re saying the pool house is inadequate and needs to be replaced, that means the only advantage of being at this location is that we have a place for it,” Landt said. “The assumption was that we have the pool house and the equipment, so all we’re doing is the pool and the cover.”

Another community priority was heating the pool for year-round use. This, combined with the potential to replace all pool facilities, brought up discussion of other locations and the possible utilization of geothermal energy, considering that natural springs are nearby.

The problem is that there are no other ideal parklands where the pool could be rebuilt, and a new $70,000 playground was built only a year ago directly behind the pool at 1705 Homes Ave., which deters any expansion on the site.

“We’re still going through the process of ruling (other locations) out, but it doesn’t look like there are properties currently owned by parks that could fit this bill,” Black said. “We’re looking at any potential property that could work.”

Oxendine reassured the committee that although the project is taking longer than expected, the pool receives regular maintenance and repairs.

The committee is waiting for more feedback before it decides on the site design.

Black told the committee that the pool is a priority for APRC and will be presented as a goal at the March 25 parks meeting.

The Daniel Meyer pool, opened in 1983, needs new tiles, a liner, plumbing, lights and gutters due to potential safety hazards. It is 25 yards by 45 feet, a nonstandard size for competitive water sports.

The ad hoc committee was formed last fall and includes community members Risa Buck, Marc Heller, Mike Hitsky, Kay, Gary Simms, Matt Miller and Jocelyn Sanford; Commissioners Mike Gardiner and Landt; Black; Recreation Superintendent Rachel Dials; Senior Services Superintendent Isleen Glatt; Oxendine; Flora; Ashland Finance Director Mark Welch.

For more information, see Ashland.or.us/swim, call 541-488-5340 or email ParksInfo@ashland.or.us.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

(March 11: Story updated with the correct email to send input to, parkinsinfo@ashland.or.us.)

File photo / Ashland Tidings Lexi Crawford, 4, takes the plunge during Island Night at the Daniel Meyer in Ashland.