Photo by Ann McCreary
Volunteers Donnie Walls, Stephanie Strong and Zachary Strong (left to right) work with Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham to help cut away concrete decking and clear gutters at the Wagner Memorial Pool last week.

Twisp pool repairs underway, July opening projected

By Ann McCreary

Resurfacing Twisp’s public swimming pool will be completed this summer, despite the fact that the town doesn’t currently have funding in hand for the entire project.

The Twisp Town Council last week approved moving ahead to finish all of the work needed to resurface the Wagner Memorial Pool in order to repair leaking that has been a persistent problem for years.

The project, which began last month, was expected to be carried out in two phases — one this summer and another next summer. But as work got underway last month, unexpected problems were discovered that have complicated original plans and delayed the pool’s opening.

As a result, the pool is not expected to be ready for swimmers before July 10 or 11 — a month later than normal, said Andrew Denham, Twisp public works director.

With assurances from members of Friends of the Pool that money would be raised to cover the cost of doing all the work this year, council members gave the go-ahead to completing both phases of the resurfacing project, as recommended by Denham.

The pool has been leaking water — more than 1,000 gallons a day — for years. The resurfacing project is intended to correct that longstanding problem.

Contractors began repairing damaged plaster and large cracks in the shell of the pool in late May, prior to applying an impermeable coating. Plans called for filling the pool and opening it for the season after the first phase was completed at a cost of $115,413.

However, the contractors discovered that gutters around the pool perimeter were leaking water that flowed away from the pool as well as back toward the shell of the pool, where it was cracking the concrete and damaging plaster on the inside of the pool.

Resurfacing and applying coating to the gutters was supposed to be done next summer in a second phase of the project. However, because of the leaking and potential damage to the newly repaired and resurfaced pool shell, the gutters need to be repaired before the pool is refilled, Denham told council members last week.

Temporary fix nixed

Work on the pool is being done by W. M. Smith & Associates of Ellensburg, a firm that specializes in pool construction and maintenance. The contractor had offered to temporarily seal the gutters, at a cost of about $10,000, which would allow the pool to open before the end of June, Denham said.

However, that temporary work would have to be undone next summer for a more thorough repair. And though contractors said they were “80 percent sure” the temporary seal wouldn’t leak and potentially damage the newly repaired pool, Denham said he didn’t feel that confident.

He advised going ahead with the permanent repair to the gutters, for a total project cost of $170,044.

As of last week, that left the town about $35,000 short of funds for the pool project, Denham said.

Representatives of Friends of the Pool, a community organization that has raised money almost $250,000 for the pool since 2005, assured town officials last week that the group would raise the money needed to complete the work on the pool.

The community group had already provided $25,000 and has another $83,000 in the bank for the resurfacing project, Denham said.

“These recent repairs and the need to finish both phases of repair now are vital to keep the pool in operation for another 25 years,” said Agnes Almquist, treasurer of Friends of the Pool, in a letter to the Twisp Council.

“We have — high hopes of raising the rest to pay off the bill. We hope the town will be willing to take on this debt so the repairs on the pool and be finished and give Friends of the Pool time to raise the rest of the funds,” Almquist said.

Friends of the Pool had already received new donations of $7,000-$10,000 as of last week, and were working to raise additional funds, Almquist said this week.

In order to cut some of the costs of the project, Twisp public works employees and community volunteers took on the job of cutting away concrete decking that overhangs the gutters around the pool last week in preparation for the gutter resurfacing. That reduced the contractor’s bill by about $8,000, Denham said.

Killer Whales disappointed

The delay in opening the pool until at least July 10 came as a disappointment to members of the Killer Whales swim team.

“If it’s July 10, we’re going to have a three-week swim season,” Bo Thrasher, a coach for the swim team, said at the council meeting. “But if we can get that pool fixed and it’s good for next year, we need to do that.”

“Doing the job right the first time is going to serve the town well,” Denham said. “I see this being a year to get the pool to stop leaking — and look forward to the next 25 years.”

Andy Floyd, president of the Killer Whales board of directors, said this week that the team has made arrangements to use the Omak swimming pool three evenings a week for Killer Whales practice. Parents were arranging car pools to get their children to practice, he said.

Team membership has dropped from more than 80 who signed up in spring to 40 children. “Usually we’re over 100,” Floyd said.

He said the team was also talking with the town of Brewster to see if the Brewster pool would be available for the Killer Whales to host a meet scheduled for June 30 in Twisp.

Given the Wagner Memorial Pool’s shortened season, some community members asked town officials last week whether the town would be willing to keep the pool open on Sundays, when it has usually been closed, or extend the season until after school begins.

“We’d like to be open as much as possible, including Sundays,” Denham said. Extending the season may be a challenge, he said, because most of the lifeguards are high school or college students and are not available after school starts, town officials said.

For information about Friends of the Pool, call 996-2119. Donations can be made to Friends of the Pool, P.O. Box 438, Twisp, WA 98856.