Twisp won’t operate the popular facility this year
The Town of Twisp and the Friends of the Pool and working on an agreement that would allow the nonprofit to operate the Wagner Memorial Pool this summer.
The town had determined earlier that because of staffing issues, it would not be feasible to operate the pool this year.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, council member Aaron Studen said the pool problem has been discussed by the Parks and Recreation Commission. Friends of the Pool, which has supported Wagner Pool operations for years and is now working on an ambitious plan to replace it with a year-round facility, offered to come up with plan to operate the pool, Studen said.
“We’re hoping this partnership works,” Studen said.
Sarah Schrock, president of Friends of the Pool, said she is confident it can, under a concessionaire agreement with the town. Schrock said Friends of the Pool learned in February that the town would not be operating the pool this season, and has been working on a proposal since.
“It’s a lot to take on and we are doing our best,” Schrock said. “It’s within our mission to operate the pool.”
She said pool staffing could likely include two managers and an appropriate number of lifeguards. Friends of the Pool would not expect to make a profit, she said, so may need to rely on some of its own funds to support the operation as well operating revenues and whatever support the town can provide. Friends of the Pool has put its search for an executive director on hold in the meantime, she said.
“I’m optimistic we’ll have a pool operating this summer,” Schrock said.
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said the town will provide maintenance support and other resources as it can, but doesn’t have the capacity to take on keeping the pool open. She said money from the Wagner Trust Fund can be used to help.
New pool campaign
Simultaneously, Friends of the Pool is continuing to pursue formation of a recreation district to help build and operate the new pool, and hopes to have a proposal ready for the November ballot. It will be necessary to have a public entity like a recreation district in place before various state, federal and private grants to build and operate the pool can be pursued, Schrock said. “They [grant providers] want to see local support first,” Schrock said.
Friends of the Pool recently held a public meeting to discuss the results of a consulting firm’s study of options for development a new, year-round facility to replace the 57-year-old Wagner Memorial Pool. Ken Ballard, lead consultant of Denver-based recreation and aquatic planning firm Ballard*King and Associates that Friends of the Pool contracted with, said the project cost estimate to build a new pool is in the $20 million range.
With the 15-month long feasibility study complete, Friends of the Pool now is focused on fundraising for the project.
As for potential locations, The nonprofit is looking at the possibility of purchasing the Lloyd property behind the former Blackbird Café site, which is already connected to town water and sewer. Other options are also being considered, but the board has settled on locating the new pool in Twisp.
Friends of the Pool, since its founding in 2005, has raised almost $400,000 to pay for repairs and other needs to keep the pool open.