12-year-old speaks for Pasco pools

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldOctober 5, 2012 

A 12-year-old girl was one of only two people to attend a meeting Thursday about the fate of Pasco's Richardson pool, but she had plenty to tell the city's parks officials.

After hearing a presentation from Rick Terway, the city's administrative and community services director, on an option to replace the aging Richardson pool with a spray park, Nyah Abraham raised her hand and told Terway matter-of-factly that no one uses the spray features already in place at Memorial Pool.

But people -- even her dad -- would use a new pool with added features like a lazy river, Nyah said.

"It would be cool if we could have a lazy river," she said.

The meeting at Robert Frost Elementary School was the first of two in which city officials are seeking residents' thoughts about what to do with Richardson and Kurtzman pools.

A second meeting to talk about Kurtzman pool is planned for 5:30 p.m. next Thursday in the cafeteria at Virgie Robinson Elementary School, 125 S. Wehe St.

The city council heard from Terway in August that it would cost $1 million to $4 million each to replace the aging pools, depending on what features might be added.

The two swimming pools were built in the 1960s and underwent renovations in the 1980s, but they now are plagued with major cracks, plumbing and electrical failures and an inability of filtration systems to keep the water as clean as state health regulations require.

The doors are rusting off of the bath houses, which also need new roofs.

And Richardson pool experienced a major pump failure that left the pool closed for the rest of this summer.

Another consideration is the operating cost -- about $50,000 per pool during the summer season -- that comes out of the city's coffers because users pay just $1 per visit, but it cost $13.76 per user to operate the pools in 2011.

By comparison, Memorial Pool costs the city $3.61 per user to operate because it attracts about four times the number of swimmers.

A consultant's study showed the spray park conversion would cost $300,000 to $600,000, compared with the minimum $1.1 million cost to replace one of the pools.

Terway said Thursday that the city would have to spend an extra $100,000 at Richardson to install a restroom to meet health codes.

Nyah, a student at Stevens Middle School, told Terway and other city representatives that when Richardson pool shut down this summer, her mother wouldn't let her walk all the way to Memorial.

"We were sad because we couldn't swim anymore," she said.

Pasco resident Annie Baker told the group that she used to enjoy water aerobics classes at Richardson pool before the evening class was stopped.

She also is concerned about the availability of swim lessons for children if Richardson pool goes away.

Terway said the city believed that swim lessons could be moved to Memorial, but Baker said that would cut into other uses of the pool, such as lap swimming.

"The adults are getting cut out," she said.

Baker said with only two people attending the meeting, the city could have done a better job of getting the word out, such as mailing a postcard.

Terway said the city issued a press release and sent about 5,000 fliers home with students in the neighborhood and thought that would get good results.

Nyah said she found about the meeting from the flier, but said the city also could have information available at parent-teacher conferences.

Councilman Saul Martinez, who is the council's liaison to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, said that was a good suggestion.

"What she's saying is instead of asking the people to come to us, we should go to where the people are," he said.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com

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