Kids have been complaining “there’s nothing to do” for as long as parents have been telling them to get out of the house and do something.
And since all of us have been kids, we know that “nothing” has always been an exaggeration.
Walla Walla is not devoid of any fun places. The YMCA is a big draw for children, so is Camp Fire and there are a variety of sports and recreation programs.
But in 2014 the claim of “nothing to do” has a little more validity in the Valley. The options for stuff to do has become a bit more limited.
The Sweet Putt, a miniature golf operation on Wellington Avenue, announced this week it is closing its doors. Business hasn’t been steady enough to pay the bills.
Earlier this year the YWCA Ice Chalet, built in 1965, called it quits. The Walla Walla ice rink has been home to recreational and competitive skaters as well as youth (and adult) hockey teams and hundreds of birthday parties.
It closed because its usage had fallen from a high of about 20,000 skaters to last year’s 13,000.
And then there is the biggest gap in children’s fun — the closing of Veterans Memorial Pool in 2006. Voters have been asked three times in three different ways to build a new pool and/or a water park. All have been rejected.
That makes the water park in Milton-Freewater, which is an excellent facility, Walla Walla’s de facto community pool even though it’s 10 miles away and in another state.
It doesn’t seem possible Walla Walla — a good-sized city with a reputation as a tourist destination — doesn’t have all sorts of places for children to engage in healthy, fun activities.
The city used to have a lot of places for children and teens. About 50 or so years ago, Walla Walla kids had three public pools to choose from. Veterans Memorial Pool next to Borleske Stadium, the Natatorium off Wilbur Avenue and Graybill’s at the corner of Reser and Kendall roads.
A variety of factors have contributed to the demise of these hot spots for youths. The facilities got old and it simply cost too much to keep them up.
Ultimately, it was old-fashioned economics that did them in. The revenue couldn’t cover expenses.
Will that change?
It depends on whether those who say they want a pool — or an ice rink or a putt-putt golf course — are willing to pay for them.
A new Olympic-sized pool is now being considered to replace the hole in the ground that was once Memorial Pool. It can only succeed if the community wants it and then demonstrates its support by approving taxes and using the facility.