School board talks pool, Latham

Construction on the Warren H. Daughtery Aquatic Center began earlier this year.

As the Warren H. Daughtery Aquatic Center undergoes a renovation with funds from the 2016 bond, the South Lane School District is currently fundraising to make sure the upgrade includes a warming pool.

At Monday night’s South Lane School District school board meeting, Communications Coordinator Garrett Bridgens detailed the effort from the district to raise $520,000 so that the warming pool is added now instead of being pushed down the road. As of now, the district has over $400,000 from donations and commitments, including a commitment from the city of Cottage Grove, to fund the pool that is used especially for therapy. 

“That pool could have a tremendous impact and I think, more importantly for right now, (the community) see that they don’t want to wait on it,” said Bridgens. “If we wait three to five years, you’re looking at price escalation, you’re going to have to shut down the pool to build that. You’re going to probably have to remove things that were just built to get the equipment in there to do the warm water recreation and therapy pool.”

The pool closed down for construction in October and is scheduled to remain closed until next August.   

The district is currently accepting donations of all sizes through its website and is in talks with local businesses about donations and recently applied for a $20,000 grant from Weyerheuser.

Old Harrison Reuse: 

During Monday’s meeting, the board also discussed the future of the old Harrison building and the land that it sits on. The district is planning to make a decision on what to do with the land at December’s meeting.

The possibilities that were brought up included maintaining – and improving – the gym; demolishing the buildings and creating usable sports fields in its place; demolishing the buildings and selling the land; and selling the property, with the building intact, as is. 

“I think the process the board and the school district felt was really important is that we need to be presented with all of the information. They wanted to know everything from asbestos abatement or whether the gym can be salvaged,” said Bridgens. “What would it cost to put in playing fields? What would it cost to put in a parking lot to go along with the playing fields? If you want to keep the building working, how much is that going to cost?”

Maintenance and Facilities Supervisor Matt Allen reported that the district is heating the building to maintain its structural integrity and have had to increase security on the building after doors were seen being propped open. 

Latham Conversation:

By November 30, the school board members will be receiving a packet of information that will help shape their decision on the fate of Latham Elementary School. The conversation of whether to keep the school open or closed has been ongoing and will take an important step at December’s meeting where the board hopes to make a final decision.

Included in the packet for the board are estimates of what the school would look like over the next five years if it stays open and what the realities of closing the school would entail. The report will also include conversations with current Latham teachers and staff members in addition to Latham parents. 

“This process isn’t something that we take lightly. The board doesn’t take that lightly, the school district doesn’t take the process of whether or not to close a school lightly,” said Bridgens. “And I think listening and hearing people’s thoughts and concerns and questions is a really important part of the process.”

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