Build a pool for Craig committee holds first community meeting
CRAIG — In response to news that the high school swimming pool would be closed by August, a small group of Craig residents have started a campaign to build a new pool for Craig.
The stakes are high. For some, the loss of the pool is a step backward, and for others, it means the loss of a sport.
“Without some kind of water, you’ve killed swimming in the Northwest,” said Melany Neton, Sea Sharks Swim Team board president.
About 30 people braved the storm Monday afternoon to attend a 30-minute public meeting at city hall.
All options are on the table, said organizer Kandee Dilldine.
Much of the discussion focused on options the city has explored in the past, such as covering the existing city pool or building a recreation center. And, City Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike was on hand to answer questions about the city’s efforts.
“At that time, it was more feasible to build a new facility rather than build a new building over a 50 years old pool. They didn’t feel like the city park footprint would incorporate an indoor facility,” he said.
In 2003, a ballot measure to increase the sales tax to build a $15 million recreation center, including an indoor pool, failed. A second effort was initiated in 2007 but was tabled the following year.
“Everyone, as a group, decided it was not the best time to go forward with a tax question, and it’s been shelved since 2009,” Pike said.
Pike was asked if he thought the city would support building a recreation center without a tax.
“Probably not,” Pike replied. “Very few break even; most are subsidized by a tax. You might want to consider a different form of taxing.”
He raised the idea of a recreation special district.
“It’s one avenue to generate some money. It’s a whole different type of organizing,” he said. “This is a long process, building a rec center. A Go Fund Me isn’t going to build a rec center, but it might give breathing room if the school were able to use the funding to keep the pool going.”
The city will begin work on a Parks and Recreation Master planning process in March. The process is expected to take about nine months, and it is hoped the effort will help the community identify and prioritize existing and future recreational opportunities.
“I encourage everyone to come to the public meetings. Speak your mind; let us know what you want,” Pike said.
City Council member Chris Nichols, who attended the meeting, asked the group, “Can we just raise enough money to help the district keep the pool? $1.1 million; is that a more achievable goal?”
His questions and many others will need to be addressed as the steering committee moves forward.
In a strategy similar to the successful effort used by the Luttrell Barn Cultural Committee to save the historic barn, the community pool group hopes to receive pledges totaling $500,000 or more during the next six to 12 months. The committee plans to leverage these funds when seeking larger corporate donations and grants.
“We know we are going to need capital and community support,” said Dr. Elise Sullivan, who facilitated the meeting.
Before money is actually collected, the group intends to explore the option of coming under the umbrella of an existing 501C(3).
The meeting ended with final requests for pledges and for volunteers to be a part of the steering committee.
“I’d like to have a senior citizen and a high school or college student on the steering committee to represent the age span that would be involved,” Sullivan said.
Pledge forms are available at Downtown Books or KS Kreations in downtown Craig. For more information or to volunteer for the steering committee, call Kandee Dilline at 970-824-2151.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
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