July 1, 2009 in City

New city pools ready for their debut

By The Spokesman-Review
Christopher Anderson photo

Amelia Ferrel (bottom center) watches from the corner of the new Shadle pool as Holly Tormey (back right) acts as a victim for lifeguard training for the upcoming summer season. The new Shadle and A.M. Cannon pools will open for the season on Monday.
(Full-size photo)

Spokane Park Board decided in May to end free swimming for kids. Children will be charged $1. Adults will pay $2. A kid’s pass for the full summer will be $15. The park department has collected donations to pay for 500 passes for children from low-income families. To get one, guardians must pick up a form today at the West Central, East Central, Peaceful Valley or Northeast community center or the Southside Senior Center. The form can be turned in between 7 a.m. and noon Monday at Shadle or Cannon pools. For information on contributing to pay for more passes, call (509) 625-6200.

As a kid, James Browning was disappointed he couldn’t use the broken slide at Spokane’s Witter Pool. More than a decade later, when he was a lifeguard, he heard constant gripes about the still-unfixed slide.

But Monday, when he helps open the first two of six new city pools as Shadle Pool’s assistant manager, broken slides will be replaced by two-story high tubes with intense curves, water playgrounds, gradual entries, fountains and tanks for lap swimmers.

With only A.M. Cannon and Shadle ready to open, park officials expect big crowds. The pools will open at noon.

“We’re just going to be on our toes a little more,” Browning said, while taking a break during lifeguard training Wednesday.

In the past few years, Spokane’s pools became notorious for system breakdowns. But voters in 2007 approved a $43 million park bond, most of which is devoted to replacing the pools.

“Zip ties and duct tape were an everyday occurrence,” said Holly Tormey, who managed Hillyard Pool last year and will oversee Shadle Pool this summer. The returning lifeguards “are just in awe because we just can’t believe what we’ve got.”

The pools are opening later than the ambitious goal set last year by park board members who hoped to have all the aquatic centers open for summer. A record-breaking winter caused delays.

The two pools that will open Monday each cost about $3.5 million. Everything – the bath houses, the filtration systems, the tanks – is new. Three of pools that will open later this summer, Hillyard, Liberty and Comstock, will have remodeled bath houses.

Park leaders worked with neighborhood groups to craft pool designs. West Central residents, for instance, didn’t want a diving board. Instead, Cannon Pool has more splash features.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Cannon pool Wednesday afternoon, Brenda Corbett, chairwoman of the West Central Neighborhood Council, took a quick wade in the shallow entry section of the pool.

“I find we got everything we wanted and asked for and a little bit more,” Corbett said.

Last year, each pool had four or five guards working at a time, said Aquatics Supervisor Carl Strong. This summer, pools will have six or seven on duty and even more at first.

“We have never seen kids in here. It’s hard to visualize it,” Strong said. “The first two weeks we’re overstaffing just to be safe.”

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