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Pool needs a plan, not a concept

I feel like the only person in town who was completely torn over the aquatic center election, because I see both sides of the issue. 

On the one hand, why should West Linn residents be asked to build a facility that Petes Mountain and Lake Oswego residents can use with no skin in the game?Also, many of our seniors are on a fixed income that is stretched to the limit, and parts of our water infrastructure are in poor condition. 

I appreciate all the time and effort of the task force, but this proposal was poorly timed and did not provide enough detail.

The North Clackamas Aquatic Park is a compelling argument for not building an aquatic center in West Linn. As many detractors have already stated, it's already there and West Linn residents are welcome to use it. But their fees are also going to go up in the future as the facility ages. This facility was not designed with an eye toward a future of rising energy costs. 

At the same time, I'm tired of schlepping over there every week to swim. Sure it's only 10 miles one way, but that's an hour of driving I'll never get back. I would like to swim twice a week, but it's too time-consuming running back and forth, and crow miles are only relevant if you can fly.

Roseville, Calif., (population 104,000) just built their third pool in 2011. It is an indoor, eight-lane lap pool with a 1,500-square-foot recreational pool, and a solar system heats the pools and the building. It also has a retractable roof that allows for both optimal day lighting and summer-time cooling, and there are also meeting rooms. According to city officials, it cost $12.7 million to build and it currently breaks even in operating costs. It incorporates the latest technology in renewable energy and green building standards and is arguably one of the greenest and most sustainable recreational facilities in the country. This is the type of facility we need to envision for our community if we're going to build a pool (tinyurl.com/4zlk4fm).

But we need greater economies of scale with a regional compact between Lake Oswego and possibly Tualatin in order to make it as economical as possible. More economies of scale will spread the costs out over a larger base of people so we aren't bearing so much of the burden. We also need an actual plan rather than just a concept, because for $24 million a lap pool should be a given.

Is proximity a sufficiently compelling reason to justify building an aquatic center in the West Linn area? For me it is but only if we have a regional compact with proportional cost sharing. It has also been noted that West Linn has a scarcity of public meeting places. Without more economies of scale to make it financially viable, it will be difficult to justify building a facility. We also need an actual plan rather than just a concept so people can see what they are buying.

Curt Sommer is a West Linn resident.



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