Friends of the Pool focuses on strategic options
The Town of Twisp will play a role in developing plans for a new swimming pool to replace the Wagner Memorial Pool, but the details of that involvement aren’t clear yet, Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said at a Town Council meeting last week.
The council heard a presentation by Sarah Schrock, president of the nonprofit organization Friends of the Pool, which is developing a strategy for funding and building a new facility to replace the Wagner Pool.
The pool, which opened in 1967, is more than 50 years old and showing its age. A large part of its annual operating expenses come from the Wagner Fund, named after the pool’s original benefactors. That fund is expected to run out of money by 2024. In addition, Friends of the Pool has raised a substantial amount of money over the years — Schrock estimated the total at $400,000 — for repairs and operational expenses. Most of the money came from small donations, she said, along with some larger gifts.
For the past couple of years, Friends of the Pool has been working on a replacement plan. The group’s campaign, Called the Big Splash, is “a community visioning, planning and building campaign to construct a new, 21st Century pool for the Methow Valley,” Schrock said.
“We need to know its scale before the town can get involved.”
– Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody
The pool has required its fair share of repairs over the past two decades. Recent repairs, however, have simply been short-term solutions to keeping the pool operational one more season at a time.
Schrock told the council that several options are possible for a new facility and for how to fund its construction, including the formation of a public recreation district. There has been community support for a year-round, covered facility, as well as for a more-comprehensive recreation center that includes a pool, she said.
Schrock said Friends of the Pool hopes to launch a more formal feasibility study in the near future. “Hopefully by 2024 we will have a plan,” she said.
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said the town supports Friends of the Pool’s efforts, but added, “we don’t have the means to shoulder such a big project.” She suggested that the campaign to build a new pool should not be “Twisp-centric” but rather involve the entire Methow Valley community, because so many users come from elsewhere in the valley. “How do we engage the greater population?” she asked.
Ing-Moody said the town would need to see more-detailed plans and cost estimates. “We need to know its scale before the town can get involved,” she said.
The mayor suggested the formation of an ad hoc subcommittee including a Town Council representative to consider the major issues facing a pool project. Schrock said there is plenty of “leadership potential” for such a group.
In other business, the council considered but did not act on a request from the Twisp Chamber of Commerce to increase the town’s contribution to the operation of the Visitor Information Center in the Methow Valley Community Center. Chamber representatives Don Linnertz and Jamie Petitto asked for an increase from $34,000 to $39,000 to support the visitor center with funds the town receives as its share of hotel/motel occupancy taxes.
Linnertz said the chamber will be issuing a request for proposals for a different location for the visitor center, but added that the location may not change depending on responses the chamber gets.