mountainecho.com

April 30, 2012

Editorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 12:56 pm

The Fall River Municipal Advisory Committee held a lightly attended public meeting last Thursday to make input into what the citizens of the Valley would like to see in a community center and park tentatively planned for the old Fall River Feed Store’s property and PG&E owned Stewardship land that the Community Services District hopes will be deeded to them.
A lot of people have put a lot of effort into acquiring the stewardship land award, getting additional monies, and brainstorming possible uses for that money. Once the CSD applies for and gets their parks and recreation powers back so they can legally operate parks, things will be a lot easier.
The concept of a swimming pool has been one of the key dreams of Valley folk ever since PG&E bulldozed its pool at the Pit One Power House under and for good reason.
A pool is an ideal spot for kids and adults to gather, cool off, swim, wade, picnic and while away the “lazy, crazy days of summer.” It’s nice, its fun, if properly run it is clean and safe. The entire community or in this case, communities benefit.
That said, I’m going to be a spoil-sport and remind folks that it is going to cost money to build. It is going to cost money to insure and it will cost money to staff, and maintain.
The money has to come from someplace. Sure, money may grow on grant trees, but the grants have to be found and in general matching funds come into play.
Burney bent over backwards to do the homework. They visited and checked pools all over the north state (several of which are no longer in operation). They had as good a feel for what was likely to happen as could be obtained. They knew what they could afford. They knew what to do and what not to do. They knew how to fund it. They got a measure put on the ballot and got it passed, charging every water user a monthly fee whether they used the pool or didn’t. They charged what they felt was a workable admission fee to those who didn’t qualify for a pool pass. It was built and has been in annual summer use ever since. They had to go back to the people to get an increase a few years ago. They have raised the use fee at the gate several times.
Good help was a major problem for several years. The winters played havoc and cost them a lot of money. Equipment wore out. Vandalism has been a problem and on and on.
It is not just a matter of gunniting a hole in the ground, pumping water in it and opening the gates to everyone who wants to use it. There is electricity, heaters, repair or replacement of urinals that have been severely damaged. Who qualifies for a pool pass and who doesn’t will be a major issue, especially if you get the CSD water and sewer district users to partially pay for upkeep.
The concept of an enclosed, year-round pool was mentioned. Burney rejected that concept when they built it because the cost was prohibitive. They revisited the decision a little while ago and rejected it again for the same reason.
I’m not trying to be a jerk or a spoil-sport, but I witnessed what happened in Burney. As president of the Rotary Club one year I went around and emptied containers where people donated their aluminum cans and occasionally a few rotting fish. Donna and I donated to it. When we lived in the Burney Water District we paid the fee on both our business and our residence without complaining. I’ve followed the pool’s progress through five water district managers and I have no idea how many pool managers and I haven’t had the time or inclination to use the facility myself.
What I am telling you is not to rely on the internet alone, if you truly want the pool, find out what you need in a pool, what the community wants and is willing to pay to have a pool. Look at every public pool in existence, talk to board members, managers, employees and users of those pools. Delve into the various pool’s histories.
Get community support, get organizations like the Lions, 4-H, and Chamber to raise funds and solicit local funds. If they won’t or try and can’t that will tell you something right there.
Talk to several pool contractors and engineering firms who specialize in pools. Get tentative plans that can be used to determine costs, then look for the grants and loans necessary to construct it.
While you are at it, be sure to do a realistic cost analysis and 20 year look at what it will cost to run a pool and remember to increase that amount by whatever the experts suggest, because I’ll guarantee you – if something can go wrong it will and no matter how detailed your plan, you will miss something.
There is nothing that makes any worse of an eye sore, or looks worse for the community than an empty deteriorating pool facility, indoor or outdoor.
I argued against a pool when I was chamber president in the 80’s because I felt those who wanted it, wanted it so bad, they were working with blinders on. They didn’t want to find anything that might slow or stop the project from going forward. If you are going to do it – do it right.

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