Cathlamet pool: Council to vote on opening for 2020 season
June 4, 2020
Town of Cathlamet officials have backed away from a Monday evening announcement that the town swimming pool wouldn't open for the 2020 season.
Instead, the council is seeking public opinion about opening the pool or keeping it closed for the summer, and the council will vote on the issue at their June 15 meeting.
On Monday night, Mayor Dale Jacobson announced that the pool wouldn't open this season. He said he had discussed the issue with Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Clark, and given the uncertainty and requirements of dealing with the covid-19 health protection, it wouldn't be feasible to open.
"It's just not going to work this year, given all the guidelines for dealing with the virus," Jacobson said.
Council members agreed.
"After talking with Sarah this afternoon, I agree," said Council Member Bill Wainwright. "It would be too expensive and not feasible."
"This is a very sad moment," said Council Member David Olson. "It is with great sadness that we have this closure. I don't see what other options we have."
Council Members Robert Stowe and Paige Lake also voiced support of the closure.
The group briefly discussed pool finances; Clark reported that the pool recovered only 8.7 percent of its operating cost last year.
The situation changed on Tuesday. Olson had second thoughts after learning the town's pool advisory committee hadn't been consulted and he wrote a letter to Jacobson and other council members asking that they take more time to collect public comment and vote on the matter at their June 15 meeting.
"After last evening's council meeting which included an informal (not formal) consensus regarding closure of the pool, I learned this morning that there is a pool advisory committee that has existed over the years as a sounding board for pool-related matters," Olson wrote. "My understanding is that this group has met informally with the mayor and public works superintendent as needed to provide input and feedback on pool-related matters.
"To the best of my knowledge, this group was not consulted or given an opportunity to provide public comment before the informal council decision last evening to move ahead with pool closure. Nor were the numbers and spreadsheets underlying the council discussion publicly distributed or available except the same day of the council meeting.
"My view is we owe the public far more than this. A decision as significant as closing the pool for the season, eliminating this recreational asset, swimming lessons for children and the associated summer jobs needs more public process than we afforded, including better public notice and an opportunity for users to comment.
"Therefore, I request that the pool closure be set for public comment at the next town council meeting, and a formal vote be taken.
"This is the least we can do, in my view, to provide legitimacy to the public process, honor pool users and those associated with the pool advisory committee over the years, and allow for adequate public notice and comment with respect to an important decision affecting a variety of stakeholders."
The mandated guidelines for swimming pool operation during the pandemic would have a major impact, according to a summary which Clark prepared and distributed Monday.
Some of the mandates would increase operating costs, and others would impact the experience swimmers would have.
For example, Clark said, four or five lifeguards would need to be on duty at all times, three rotating lifeguards, a cashier/monitor and a cleaner/monitor for frequent cleaning and sterilizing.
The pool would be limited to 50 percent of its 75-swimmer capacity, and Clark said that complying with social distancing would leave swimmers a very limited swimming area.
To accommodate 24 swimmers, each would be limited to a 6x6' area.
To accommodate 13 swimmers, each would be limited to a 10x10' area.
To accommodate 16 swimmers, each would be limited to a 6x13' area.
Channels for full lap areas would accommodate four swimmers, and channels for half lap areas would accommodate six swimmers.
Lifeguards would need to continually monitor social distancing in and out of the pool/locker rooms, Clark said.
"We must purchase and install barriers or rely on tape marks to provide boundary guides," she said. "Young swimmers may not follow these guides easily.
"We would rely on the lifeguards to follow and enforce strict policies on young swimmers who may not understand “social distancing” requirements and want to play with their friends."
Citizens are welcome to submit written public comment to the clerk/treasurer, which will be read and discussed by the council at the next meeting, Clark said. To obtain a copy of the report that was reviewed by the council to make this decision, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360.795.3203 x 6.