September 17, 2009 in Washington Voices

Crowds packed revamped Spokane pools over summer

City tallies thousands of swimmers
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photo

With the pool season winding down, Nora Keaney, 12, rides the water slide at Comstock Pool Sept. 5.
(Full-size photo)

It’s been a hot summer in Spokane, and since the pools were closed for renovation at the end of the swim season last year, there weren’t many places to take a cool dip when the heat struck.

Then, on July 6, a new Shadle Park Pool and a renovated A.M. Cannon Pool were the first to open their gates and invite swimmers to dive, swim and splash.

“We were a little bit late getting opened, but everything went really well this summer,” said Carl Strong, the Spokane Parks Department’s director of aquatic facilities.

“We have had minimum complaints, and they were complaints that we’d have every year. Overall we have gotten really positive feedback from the public.”

And the new pools have been put to good use.

Shadle Park saw 35,000 visitors from July 6 to Sept. 1 and Cannon Pool saw 15,000 swimmers before the end of the season.

“At Cannon, last year in July we had 8,300 visitors,” Strong said, “and the total for last year were 14,000 swimmers, so yes, it’s been very popular.”

Because Shadle is a completely new pool there are no prior numbers to compare to.

Comstock and Hillyard pools opened on Aug. 12, and Comstock saw 9,200 swimmers before Sept.1.

“Last year, in the month of August, we had 5,700 swimmers,” Strong said.

The Hillyard Pool had 6,100 visitors between Aug. 12 and Sept. 1 compared to 4,700 in August of last year.

Strong said there have been no issues with vandalism.

“Something was broken at the Hillyard pool, but it was not a huge issue,” Strong said. “I think when the pools are nice and new, people respect them more.” Strong added that it’s a priority for the Parks Department to keep the aquatic facilities in pristine condition.

“When you clean things up right away, people take better care of them,” Strong said.

The Spokane Parks Department undertook a big construction project last year when it began replacing and remodeling the city’s five outdoor pools as well as constructing the new pool at Shadle Park.

Construction was at times hampered by record snowfalls and freezing temperatures, so much so that heating blankets and giant heaters had to be brought on-site in order for the cement to set correctly and the project to meet its deadline.

At the same time the city also constructed 10 splash pads, geared toward smaller children, most of which opened in the early summer.

Work continues on Witter and Liberty pools, which are expected to be ready for summer swimming in 2010.

Actually, the new pools were so popular that the Parks Department had problems with people breaking into them at night, after hours, to swim and party.

“The thing about people breaking in is nothing new, but we handled it differently than other years,” said Strong. “We sent out an announcement and said let’s all work together taking care of our new pools.” So far that has worked.

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