TENINO – Weekly summer trips to Tenino’s Quarry Pool are a tradition for Jett May and her family.
May, who lives in Bucoda, said she has taken her three children, who are now adults, to the pool for the past 15 years. All three learned to swim there.
“We come here every chance we get,” she said Thursday afternoon while relaxing near the wading pool.
But the sounds of splashing water may soon be a thing of the past at the county’s only outdoor public pool.
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Facing an estimated $10,000 shortfall, the City of Tenino may close the pool one month early if it fails to find enough money to plug the gap, said Tenino Mayor Ken Jones.
“We have to get funds from other places,” he said, noting it won’t be city money that saves the pool this year.
Jones said the council decided Tuesday to keep the pool open two more weeks and then reassess the issue at its Aug. 9 meeting. At that point, the council could decide to close the pool for the remainder of the season, which usually runs through early September. The city budgeted $38,000 for the pool this year, and the shortfall comes from a combination of lagging city revenue and decreased donations, Jones said.
The pool’s budget relies in part on a fundraiser held every two years by the Tenino Chamber of Commerce. Last year the chamber gave the city $8,000; the organization wrote a check for $2,500 for this year’s budget, said Paul Donohue, chamber treasurer.
Donohue said it’s the chamber’s intention to provide another $2,500 if the council keeps the pool open through Labor Day.
Thurston County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe, who represents the Tenino area, has promised to help the city find the rest of the money.
Wolfe, at the request of Tenino officials, scheduled a meeting Monday with county, Tenino and Tumwater officials, the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and representatives from the United Way of Thurston County, the Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County and the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce to see if any money is available.
Wolfe said that she’s confident the group will emerge with a plan to keep the pool open this summer.
“I don’t have any idea how, but on faith I believe,” she said.
Funding next year and beyond is also on the mayor’s mind. Jones said one option could include the tribe becoming pool sponsors, creating a more consistent revenue stream.
Many at the pool Thursday said closing it would hurt the young people in the community, who don’t have many summertime options.
Brigitte Nelson, a Tenino School District para-educator who works the pool gates, said she sees many of the same faces throughout the summer but also talks with people who come from other counties for an afternoon at the pool.
“I can’t think of any (other) place kids can go and parents feel OK with it,” she said.
Young swimmers also were upset to hear of the pool’s uncertain future.
“If it were gone I don’t know what I’d do, probably stay in my room all day,” said 11-year-old Paxton Moon of Yelm.
Her mother, Phaedra Kelleher, said she fears that a closure would mean more teens getting in trouble.
“They (children) need something that’s community based,” she said. “It would be a major disappointment and a huge shame to shut this down.”
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/outsideoly