The citizens committee reviewing projects to be on the “to do” list if voters approve the renewal of Washington’s capital improvement half-cent sales tax that will be on the April ballot is giving additional time to consideration of a new municipal swimming pool. The cost would be about $6 million, which would take a lion’s share that the tax is estimated to produce in its eight-year life.
The idea that the city and YMCA should be partners in a pool project needs more consideration. It has merit, and certainly qualifies for deep study.
The present pool dates to the mid-1930s and from what we are told, is a high-maintenance facility. It has been upgraded a couple of times and has a long record of serving people. It was built during the Depression, coming at a time when money was scarce, and most people didn’t have the resources to afford recreational pursuits. For the young people during the Depression, the pool was a godsend. It was affordable to users and the city fathers somehow managed to keep it as a great recreational asset. The federal government provided the bulk of the money to build it.
Over the years, the pool has served so many residents, to not have it would leave a great void and would be a step backward for the city. Yes, it’s losing money. Municipal pools aren’t built to make money. It’s a benefit the city provides its citizens.
We hope we are wrong, but an impression is forming that the parks department really doesn’t want to be bothered with operating the pool. It has hired a St. Louis company to operate the pool. We hear that attendance at the pool has decreased some. A view many people have is that when it was managed locally, it was a better operation, with more activities and benefits to citizens. It isn’t open as long as it used to be. The reason given is that lifeguards leave in mid-August to return to college.
Has the pool reached the stage where it needs to be promoted more?
A new pool would be costly, true, but the long-term benefits to people in Washington, and from the surrounding area, make it a worthwhile investment. It is a valuable asset to the city.
To not have the pool as one of the capital improvement projects could jeopardize the outcome of the election, we’ve been hearing.
We believe the pool should be one of the projects on the list of the capital improvements that the sales tax would finance. It can be justified and is as important as sports playing fields, trails and other park facilities.