City awaits Memorial Pool rebuilding study

Walla Walla’s Memorial Pool, closed for several years due to maintenance funding woes, may be rebuilt under a plan the city is studying.

Walla Walla’s Memorial Pool, closed for several years due to maintenance funding woes, may be rebuilt under a plan the city is studying. Photo by Michael Lopez.

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This article has been updated since its original publication.

WALLA WALLA — A new plan to rebuild Memorial Pool is treading water as city officials await word from an aquatic design and engineering firm hired to study reusing and rebuilding the facility.

Memorial Pool closed after the summer season of 2006 and never reopened because it needed too many costly repairs and got too little use, city officials said. A bid to build a new water complex was sunk by voters in 2012.

“We are so excited,” Rebuild Memorial Pool committee president Anne North-Jones said. “We just think what the public wants is to reuse what we have and to start smart.”

Over the past year, the committee met with city officials a number of times to push for rebuilding Memorial Pool. The committee also suggested relining the current pool and gave an estimate of $1.5 million for the project.

Part of those meetings with the city included looking at two other locations — the Mill Creek Sport Complex and near Fort Walla Walla. But North-Jones said the most feasible option proved to be the current spot adjacent to the Borleske Field parking lot.

“The thing about going back to where Memorial Pool is now is that we don’t have to deal with all the licensing and permits,” North-Jones said.

While the pool and surrounding gutter system could be reused, most of the infrastructure — pumps, boiler, treatment machines, piping — will need to be replaced, North-Jones said.

The $7,500 study will be conducted by Rowly International of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. The study will look at options that include deepening and widening the pool, removing the diving section, adding a zero depth entry, improving the surrounding concrete decking and determining if the pool should be made of plaster, concrete or lined stainless steel.

The end result would be a 50 meter by 25 yard Olympic pool, which was the one element that was not included in an $8.7 million aquatics center proposal in 2012 that city residents voted down. About 59 percent of voters were against the levy that would have paid for various slides and other water-park type features.

Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dumont said there are two reasons for now considering a less-costly Olympic size pool: the work of the Rebuild Memorial Pool committee and the results of last year’s city survey, which put a lack of large municipal pool as the second leading concern of citizens.

“Streets was the obvious number one improvement, and the other one was the pool. And that caught the attention of Council,” Dumont said.

If rebuilding Memorial Pool proves feasible, Dumont said the project could be completed by the summer of 2016.

As for funding options, the pool could be paid for with private donations, grants, a voter approved bond or levy, City Council approved bonds and city general funds.

Dumont said the city could also ask voters to approve levies to pay for future operational costs. He added that some municipal pools break even while others require cities to pump in general funds, and that it is too early to tell if the Rebuild Memorial Pool proposal would be a self-sustaining operation.

“That is a hard one to tell until we know what is going to be there,” Dumont said.

The Rowly study is expected to be completed in the next several weeks.

Updates on the status of that report and other Memorial Pool developments are available online at memorialpool.org.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.


This article was updated on April 4, 2014 at 1:58 p.m. to reflect the following correction:

The amount of the pool study was stated incorrectly in the original article. The correct amount is $7,500, not $75,000.

Comments

barracuda 10 months ago

Is this another bond issue? Great timing of this story, just as elections are coming............

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