The Thompson Park pool in The Dalles will not operate this summer, but remain closed until completion of a replacement pool scheduled to open Memorial Day 2015.
The Northern Wasco County Park and Recreation District board voted unanimously to close the pool at their regular meeting Wednesday night. They noted that operating the pool would require completion of an costly three-month structural test to confirm the aging facility safe for public use and would cause delays in starting construction that could jeopardize opening the new pool for the 2015 season.
“I can’t see taking a 7 to 10 thousand dollar gamble on opening the (old) pool, I’m willing to sacrifice one year to be sure it doesn’t become two,” said board member Dean Dollarhide.
“The sooner we start, the sooner we can finish.”
Prior to the vote, project consultant Mark Seder presented a preliminary project schedule for building the new pool, approved by voters in November, that showed physical construction beginning in May 2014 and ending in May 2015.
The schedule allowed for an 80-day training and testing period following completion to allow park staff to prepare for an opening on Memorial Day 2015. He noted that a late start would be possible, but would add cost to the project and would cut into the 80 day “buffer” period needed to train staff, test the facility, and get the pool up and running.
District Executive Director Scott Green added that in addition to the extra cost, building the project in phases, to allow the pool to remain open as long as possible could raise safety issues, and possibly cause problems with dust and debris getting into the pool.
“I think getting the new pool constructed for Memorial Day 2015 has to be the priority,” noted board member Marcus Denney. “Even without the bond passing, I don’t think we could have opened the pool anyway, with the financial issues and so many problems.”
Other board members agreed, and voted unanimously to not pursue opening the pool for the 2014 season.
With the pool closed, the district will have funds available to possibly assist the swim team and other pool users looking for alternatives, and board members discussed looking for ways to help those hundreds of pool users who will be left high and dry next summer.
With The Dalles pool closed, the closest public pools are in Hood River and Dufur.