The Newport City Council Monday night acknowledged that the Newport Municipal Pool, after nearly fifty years of service, is near the end of its service lifetime. And so they’re poised to put a new pool on next November’s ballot.
The recent collapse of its drain system that’s kept the pool closed for days, is a painful reminder how much the community values the pool and how much they want Newport to continue having a municipal pool for exercise, swim lessons, swim meets, rehabilitation for the disabled or those with medical issues along with just wanting to stay in top shape.
The Newport Pool is expected to reopen later this month but Public Works Director Tim Gross and Parks and Recreation Director Jim Protiva cautioned the council that there are other serious problems besetting the pool including aging and deteriorating side drains, HVAC system, leaky roof, electrical panels, and pumps, any of which would be expensive to fix.
It did not take long for the council to begin talking about putting a six million dollar plus tax override bond on next November’s ballot. If it passes, the pool could be added on to the Recreation Center building behind City Hill which would take advantage of employees already in the building being assigned additional pool duties.
A number of Newport Swim Team members and their families, including nine year old Newport swim star Bobo Shisler wearing a chest full of state medals, pleaded with the council to support a new community pool.
Councilors asked staff to “dust off” the 2010 pool bond measure that failed by just 136 votes and to update costs associated with that new eight lane pool. The council assigned the city Parks and Recreation Committee to come up with that new information and to enlist testimony from pool construction experts to verify that the revise figured are sound.
Councilors said they would like to have the information ready for public discussion in front of the city council in April. Pool boosters say the are up to the challenge of convincing a majority of voters that the current Newport pool is on its last legs and that the community truly needs a new pool to maintain all the benefits a swim center offers. They said that the quality of life in Newport, especially for seniors and young people would be dramatically diminished if the city losses it’s pool and can’ t build a new one.
The council said it wants all the information provided to Newport voters by this summer so they will have plenty of time to study the facts and then vote accordingly.