For the first time in more than 57 years, the Millwood City Park wading pool remains dry.
Based on a recent decision made during a June 16 city staff meeting, the pool may remain closed for the summer.
“The bottom line is the same as it has been since May,” Mayor Dan Mork wrote in an email June 29. “1. Community needs to raise at least $8,000 to open the Millwood wading pool. 2. The city will open, operate, maintain, and supply attendants when that happens.”
Resident Bobbie Beese, co-founder and member of Friends of Millwood, hoped the pool would open this summer after statements made by Mork and maintenance supervisor Cleve McCoul at the June 6 City Council meeting and an email sent by Mork, dated June 20, said a decision was still pending a review in July.
“Since we now know that the pool can get through one more year before being recoated,” Beese said, referring to statements made during a report at the council’s June meeting. “I, personally, don’t understand why it isn’t already open.”
The prospect of opening the pool was discussed at the June 16 city staff meeting. At that meeting it was decided not to open the pool until funds were raised for the needed repairs.
This aligned with the council’s decision made during a special meeting held in April, specifically to discuss the pool.
“There are going to be a lot of hot, very disappointed toddlers and parents looking at an empty pool,” Beese said.
A budget shortfall this year forced the city to cut all nonessential expenditures. This shortfall plays a big part in keeping the pool closed.
The city had scheduled to demolish the 24-foot landmark, built in 1954, this spring because of repairs needed. At that time McCoul referred to a bid of more than $10,000 to cover the needed repairs.
After learning about the city’s decision, community members came out in defense of keeping the pool, causing the council to reconsider. McCoul received another estimate of about $7,900 to sand blast the surface and paint. According to McCoul, the proposed repairs would provide approximately 10 years more use
The city said the pool’s annual operating cost is approximately $9,445; $5,243 for staffing attendants, $1,776 for water and $2,426 for maintenance.
“We build for next year,” said Mork, who is not optimistic about opening the pool for 2011.
Mork stated the finance committee will make a final determination whether the city can afford to operate the pool for the remainder of the summer during its July meeting. The committee includes Mork, City Treasurer Deborah Matkin, councilmembers Kevin Freeman and Shaun Culler.
In the meantime, the Friends of Millwood is raising funds to repair the pool. The group recently partnered with The Spokane Parks Foundation to accept tax deductible donations through the foundation website.
According to Greg Mott, owner of Corner Door Fountain and Books, the group has raised approximately $500 through local businesses. He says other fundraising plans are in the works.
City Planner Tom Richardson plans to begin pursuing grant funding if community efforts fall short.