March 31, 2004
Good news. The city of Brookings will make the necessary repairs to keep its aging municipal pool open for another summer. But it's only a temporary fix. It's time to permanently plug the financial drain created by the facility.
Closing the pool, however, is not an option, as was evident by the large show of pool enthusiasts at last week's park and recreation commission meeting.
There are ways to solve this dilemma.
One idea, as suggested by Pilot columnist Dick Keusink, is to combine the pool and tennis courts under one roof. Another idea is to privatize the facility, leasing it to a youth organization such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club.
Another idea is to turn the big, square hole in the ground into a family-themed water park with slides, water toys, spouting fountains and beachlike areas. Something like that may work well in Brookings, which already attracts visitors far and wide with Azalea Park's KidTown and the skate park.
Of course it takes money to maintain or improve the pool.
We have several ideas about that, too.
We challenge swimming enthusiasts to conduct fundraisers such as swim-a-thons. Once such event in Berkeley, Calif., last year raised $20,000, with local business contributing another $7,200.
We encourage the city to develop plans for boosting pool income, including higher entrance fees, more classes and hours, children's lessons, and better advertising of private pool rentals. Cutting the amount of lap swimming, which generates the least revenue, is an option.
Perhaps it is time to float a bond past voters. The problem with that, as is always the case with recreation, is there are only "x" number of tax dollars people want to pay.
Still, the result of the bond, pass or fail, would give city officials some direction on what to do.
The pool has been a financial headache for some time. Rather than shove it aside as a wasted cause, let's explore the many possibilities and find a way to preserve or improve what could be an asset to the community, rather than a liability.