Diminished budgets have left Thurston County’s only two lifeguard-monitored public pools closed as the summer heat rises.
Both the Tanglewilde community pool and the Tenino Quarry have failed to open so far this year, but each has a core group working hard to find funding sources, and the quarry group is close to success.
The Tenino City Council directed staff to open the quarry pool after the community raised more than $7,500 through grass-roots fundraising. The decision was made during the July 9 meeting.
“We voted to have it open up as quickly as they could with the goal of Oregon Trail Days in two weeks,” said Tenino Mayor Bret Brodersen.
Tanglewilde Recreation Center’s community pool is also closed after voters rejected a new six-year levy in November.
While it’s not the first failed levy, it is the first time the pool has failed to open in five decades.
Instead of chlorinated water, laughter and cannon balls, the Tanglewilde pool sits empty except for a collection of green water at the deep end — a habitat for frogs and the resting place of leftover Fourth of July fireworks.
Weeds creep through cracks in the concrete deck, growing well over 4 feet tall. Cobwebs fill the corners and rafters of the pool house.
A yellow plywood backboard from the pool staff of 2009 nailed to the ceiling reads “the year of the walrus,” showing the sense of humor that can come with the job. Twelve dashes mark the times kids threw up in the pool that year. Two more dashes were in honor of the “two that pooped eew!”
There won’t be a commemorative board for the 2013 staff.
Somewhere among the signatures that cover the beams is Linda Gallivan’s maiden name. She worked in the office in the 1980s and is now the Tanglewilde Recreation Center pool manager.
The pool’s closure breaks her heart. This year makes the 50th anniversary of the facility.
“This has been the same for 50 years,” Gallivan said, looking around at its dilapidated state.
The facility survived two car crashes, an earthquake and adverse weather. Gallivan hopes the pool doesn’t succumb to a failed levy.
Voters rejected a levy that would have kept the doors open. It typically costs around $35,000 to maintain the pool each season according to Gallivan’s husband, Timothy Gallivan.
The pool commission had a surplus of funds, but used the extra cash for capital improvements last season. The pool was leaking a large amount of water and had to be fixed last year.
“It’s a 50-year-old pool — it’s going to have infrastructure problems,” Timothy Gallivan said.
A new levy is up for the voters to decide this August. Part of the reason the first levy failed could be demographics, Gallivan said.
“The folks here are getting older we are in an influx of folks coming in as nonresidents,” Gallivan said. “It’s probably one of the reasons why the levy did fail because the demographics have been changing, and the need isn’t quite there.”
Work to get the pool ready usually starts in February. Gallivan scouts the Red Cross lifeguard classes and hand picks who works at the pool.
It’s how she found 20-year-old Joseph Cuthbertson, a lifeguard who met and proposed to his fiancée, 19-year-old Anna Johnson, at the pool.
They met in the summer of 2011.
“I proposed in November – I did it at the front door because I couldn’t get in with it being closed,” Cuthbertson said, laughing.
Gallivan would have personally come down and unlocked the facility had she known.
The three can only imagine the celebration among the staff if the pool were still open.
“We (staff members) are so close,” Gallivan said. “The whole staff is close to the families — it’s like we are one big family here.”
It’s the family mentality that raised funds to get Tenino’s quarry pool open this year, albeit late in the season.
The quarry pool reaches depths of 90 feet under a waterfall. A small volunteer group of about five were out in force Friday to spruce up the facilities and finish filling the last three feet – a process that takes a week, according to Tenino Public Works Director Dave DaFoe.
Once filled, the last obstacle is finding lifeguards so late in the summer. They need at least two, with a third on call depending on the number of people in the pool.
Hot days can attract between 200 and 300 people.
The council also has to figure out how long they can keep the facility open once it’s up and running.
It costs approximately $7,000 just to open the pool, plus an additional $5,000 to $8,000 for maintenance to keep it open from the end of July through the end of August.
It costs between $25,000 and $30,000 to operate the quarry pool for an entire season, July 1 through Labor Day weekend.
“The council wanted to just get the pool open,” Brodersen said. “We will get a report back to determine if additional funds have come in and gate sales over opening weekend.”
Tenino residents banded together during the “Quarry Cookie Cookoff,” raising $827, nearly three times the amount Tenino resident and business owner Terril Keary thought they would.
Keary has a 15-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son who frequent the pool in the summer.
“We have got to give something good for the kids to do that is supervised with lifeguards,” Keary said.Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 email@example.com theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer