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Pools running smoothly, Tualatin facility gets remodel

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The entrance to the Tualatin High School pool will be part of the remodel plan.When the Tigard and Tualatin pools left the hands of the Tigard-Tualatin School District four years ago, it wasn't guaranteed the transition would be smooth. The shift was necessary, however, if the pools were to remain in operation. Before the Tigard Tualatin Aquatic District formed, the plan had been to empty out the pools and leave them be — a result of budget cuts.

“The schools decided they didn't want to maintain the pools anymore because of how much money it was. So, we formed this special district, so that we then could have a tax base to help keep them running,” said Kathy Stallkamp, TTAD board of directors president. “Our goal was to make it basically seamless. So, we kept on every employee the school district had, we didn't make any employee changes. We didn't change the fee, the structure. Basically, somebody from the outside walked in one day to the next, and they saw no difference.”

While no such changes were made, many changes and updates were mandated to increase the quality of the pools. Mike Branam, TTAD aquatics director, had been creatively fixing the pools' problems for more than two decades. Over the years, more and more money was taken away from the pool budget and moved over for more necessary school district needs, which led to a gradual rundown of the facilities. Today, Branam said he has the Tigard pool running at close to 100 percent, up from 50 percent four years ago.

“(The Tualatin pool) is a 15-year-old building, (the Tigard pool) is a 45-year-old building. So, there weren't as many problems (in Tualatin), but we're updating everything as we go through it,” Branam said. “So now, we're making them work the way they're designed, and I don't have to be as creative about making things work anymore.”

Keeping up with the standards Branam and the TTAD board have set for themselves and their facilities, they're in the process of planning a remodel for the Tualatin pool. The remodel will address safety and security issues within the building, said Stallkamp. Per current rules and design, parents and guardians accompanying a child, but not swimming themselves, have to exit the building and reenter through a side door, leaving their child unattended for a period of time.

“I remember as a parent going, 'I have to leave my kid?' And honestly I would sometimes break the rule and just do it because I wasn't comfortable leaving them,” Stallkamp said. “So we want to make it so there's a path for them to go through, and then reposition the entryway so we have better visibility, things like that.

"We're trying to improve the building flow, how people come in and how they get from the front to the deck so that it's a secure, safe situation.”

No major problems have resulted so far — the remodel ensures it stays that way. Currently, the board is working with an architect — who is also a mother and swim instructor at the Tigard pool — and going through possible designs. From there, leaders will figure out what will fit within the budget they've allocated and adjust plans as necessary.

After nearly being shut down indefinitely four years ago, the Tigard and Tualatin pools are running better than ever before, said Branam. Through his and Stallkamp's leadership, as well as the leadership of the rest of the board, plans are securely in place to make sure everything stays up to par.

“When things break, I have to tell people who normally come here swimming that they can't swim today. That is something that I don't want to do. They need to depend on us. That's why we don't have broken things. Well, we break things, but nobody knows,” Branam said, laughing because he'd just come back from fixing something. “The people in Tigard and Tualatin really value these pools — they have a long history here.”

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