The public pool in The Dalles will be open for a “bonus swim” this Saturday, Sept. 7, from noon to 6 p.m.

Traditionally, the last day the Northern Wasco County Aquatic Center is open is Labor Day, but the bonus swim was added this year, and concessions will also be offered at a discount, according to Scott Baker, executive director of the Northern Wasco County Park and Recreation District.

The pool also saw a sharp second-year increase in its program offering free or reduced-cost pool passes to families. The park district distributed 43 passes last year and 193 passes this year, Baker said.

The cost of the passes was funded through Pacific Source Community Solutions and the Columbia Gorge Health Council, and a handful of private donations.

One of the funding sources was a two-year grant that has ended, but interested families who are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan can visit their primary care physician and if their doctor feels there’s a health benefit for the family to swim they can refer them for a free swim pass through Pacific Source, Baker said.

“The park district really wants the public pool to be for everybody in our community, we don’t want cost to be a barrier for people coming and using the public pool,” Baker said.

The pool has operated in the black for the previous two years, and should also be in the black this year, Baker said.

“We need the pool to pay for its operating costs so we can squirrel away money to pay for its eventual replacement without having to go out for a bond,” Baker said.

The pool costs about $198,000 a year to run.

The pool saw fewer customers this past summer because “it just wasn’t hot,” Baker said. “We didn’t have the string of 95-plus, really still days that pack the pool. So the pool was busy but not slammed like we were last summer.”

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