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Pool district pulls request to include Scappoose

Board members backed out after Scappoose City Council aimed for expanded services

Photo Credit: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Anne Scholz and Keith Forsythe address the Scappoose City Council Monday evening, Nov. 17, regarding the Eisenschmidt Pool in St. Helens. The Greater St. Helens Parks and Recreation District, which manages the pool, expressed interest this year in annexing Scappoose into the district, but backed out Tuesday after hearing from the council.After welcoming Scappoose to be annexed into the Greater St. Helens Parks and Recreation District, board members have since retracted the offer.

Representatives from the district, which manages the Eisenschmidt Pool in St. Helens, met with Scappoose city councilors Monday evening, Nov. 17, asking the council to consider a ballot measure that would allow Scappoose voters to decide whether to be taxed for the pool in exchange for an in-district rate on pool use.

Before voting to table the proposal until Dec. 2, councilors said they weren’t opposed to allowing Scappoose residents to vote on it, but said they would like to see the district encompass more amenities than just the pool.

The discussion came minutes after the council received an update on a Rotary Club project that proposes to build a fountain and splash area in Heritage Park.

A few councilors suggested the fountain project become part of the pool district, to give Scappoose residents more incentive to buy in.

“The only way I would want to see us participate in something like this ... is if we saw a tangible benefit in the actual city limits of Scappoose,” Councilor Jason Meshell said.

Councilor Barbara Hayden had a similar idea, saying she would like to see the pool district expand to include more recreational options for kids in south Columbia County.

District board member Keith Forsythe said at the meeting that he wasn’t sure whether the pool board would agree to increase its scope.

“We basically run the pool. ... We have no personal desire on the board to get out on too many other [fields],” Forsythe told the council.

Anne Scholz, director of the recreation district, said Wednesday that after meeting with the city council Monday, the board discussed it and decided to withdraw the request to annex the city of Scappoose.

“I presented this information to the board last night and they voted unanimously to discontinue the project,” Scholz said. “I think it was bigger than our mission.”

As proposed, Scappoose residents in incorporated areas would pay 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on a property and could purchase memberships to the pool at the in-district rate, which is 30 percent cheaper than out-of-district members pay. In-district membership rates range in price from $38 for three months for a senior or child, to $316 for a one-year household membership. General admission without a membership is $3 for children, $4 for adults and $2.50 for seniors. Punch cards can also be purchased.

Hayden said she was “disappointed” to hear the board decided not to pursue the annexation any further. She said residents have expressed interest in and put money toward a pool in Scappoose before, but said the city doesn’t have the money to build a pool right now.

“It’s something were gonna have to talk with the mayor and new city manager about to see if we can open up some kind of dialog with St. Helens,” Hayden said. “We need something in Scappoose for the kids. We were hoping we could sit down with them and talk about expanding to some sort of south county park and recreation district.”

Mayor Scott Burge concurred, saying, “The greater conversation still needs to happen.”