Pooling our money

© 2017-Cottage Grove Sentinel

$5.1 million. 

That was the number the South Lane School District arrived at for the repair and reconstruction of the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center when divvying up the $35 million bond passed by voters last year. It was going to address deteriorating locker rooms, lighting and the pool itself. However, ever-increasing construction costs have pushed the estimate for the bare minimum to at least $5.7 million. Enter Kris Woodard.

South Lane Superintendent Krista Parent told the school board Monday night that Woodard had approached her about a fundraising effort to pad the pool’s budget. 

“I grew up swimming in the pool and my history goes back with the pool a long way,” Woodard told The Sentinel. He first joined the pool committee in 2006 and says he has “a passion” for the facility. 

In a letter addressed to the community, the pool task force notes the $600,000 gap between the money earmarked by the school district for the pool and what construction estimates say it will cost. 

“The task force is happy to report that positive headway has been made in closing the gap with $150,000 pledged to date with a good possibility of raising an additional $150,000,” the letter reads. 

But $150,000 and $150,000 only brings an additional $300,000 to the table, leaving the project short $300,000. As a result, the task force is asking the community to pitch in. 

“I want to bring that asset back to life for the community,” Woodard said. “It’s a wide-reaching benefit to the community,” he said noting the competitive events that take place there as well as the recreational and therapeutic activities. 

Originally built in 1952, the pool has served more than 150,000 residents and since its construction, Cottage Grove has not reported a single incident of a child drowning—classes at the pool a mandatory part of the district’s education plan. 

The plan Parent presented to the board on Monday would replace the pool itself, which would allow for competition meets and include an eight-lane set-up, as well as address the aging locker rooms and add a hot tub. According to the district’s research and conversations with other area community pools, the hot tub feature is a larger draw and profit earner. 

Without added funds, repairs to the pool would be limited. Locker room upgrades would consist of new paint and new flooring may be laid on the deck of the pool. 

“The pool has hosted birthday parties and other celebrations,” the letter continued. “It has been a central gathering spot for intergenerational recreational and family swims…while the pool users have enjoyed a myriad of benefits, the pool has not fared so well.” 

The next meeting of the task force committee is scheduled for this Thursday and new construction estimates are due this week. In an effort to align with construction deadlines, the task force is asking that initial donations be received by Dec. 15. Donations can be directed to SLSD/Pool Task Force 455 Adams Ave. Cottage Grove, Oregon 97424. Donors can also contact the school district at (541) 942-3381.

FULL LETTER:

Upgrades to the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center, more commonly called the pool, have been over a decade in the making with much support from outside professionals who specialize in all facets of aquatic facilities. The South Lane School District, which operates the pool facility, is continuing to leading the charge to remodel this important community asset.

 

In May 2016, South Lane voters approved a bond measure that earmarked $5.1 million to bring the pool into the 21st Century. But skyrocketing construction costs have pushed the necessary funding to $5.7M thus creating an unexpected $600,000 million budget gap, which the pool task force is urgently trying to bridge by year-end so that a September 2018 startup can be met. Anything short of $5.7M will make it difficult to upgrade the pool to the point that all the necessary components to make it viable have been included.

 

The Pool Task Force is happy to report that positive headway has been made in closing the $600,000 funding gap with $150,000 pledged to date with a good possibility of raising an additional $150,000. The task force is asking for help in raising the remaining $300,000. Your generosity would be greatly appreciated and result in far reaching benefits to the community. If you wish to make a donation, donations can be directed to the SLSD/Pool Task Force, 455 Adams, Cottage Grove OR. 97424. The Pool Task Force requests that any donations submitted be received by December 15, 2017.

 

The Districts on-going efforts to see this project thru to completion have been endless with many hours spent discussing and pulling together the necessary players to bring the pool back to life. Planned renovations include reconfiguring the 33-yard-long pool into a competition-appropriate eight lanes and 25 meters long, adding built-in seating capacity for up to 350 spectators, modernizing mechanical equipment to increase energy efficiency and water conservation, upgrading the locker rooms to accommodate individuals of all genders, ages, and physical abilities and, improving the office and creating community meeting spaces.

 

Built in 1952, the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center has touched the lives of more than 150,000 people of all ages, abilities, and income levels. The once state-of-the-art facility has been the site of countless hours of swimming and water safety lessons for all South Lane School District students, water polo matches that have drawn visitors from around the world; and  a robust slate of water aerobics, lap swims, master’s workouts, and other adult and senior fitness classes.

 

The pool has hosted birthday parties and other celebrations, and has been a central gathering spot for intergenerational recreational and family swims. The pool also contributes immeasurably to a higher quality of life for many south Lane County area residents, including those who use it therapeutically to recover from injuries and as a way to keep physically fit, as well as for challenged teens who say they were positively transformed by participating in competitive and other swimming programs. And the pools legacy is impressive with not a single incidence of a local youth drowning since constructed 65 years ago.

 

While pool users have enjoyed a myriad of benefits, the pool has not fared so well. Hundreds of gallons of water escape each year from corroded and inaccessible pipes. The boiler constantly breaks down. Aging locker rooms fall short of current codes. The pool is too cold for young children and the elderly to use at length. Maintenance costs continue to climb because of the outdated equipment and facility design. And, because the pool is longer than normal, it has not been able to host any official competitive meets in its 65 years of existence.

 

The Pool Task Force encourages you to help by making a donation to help bring this valuable community asset back to life with a thanks in advance of any donations received.


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