Love your public pool? Let Camas leaders know now, before it’s too late

If you grew up in an area where the summertime temps regularly shot above 90 and the humidity was enough to make you cry (shout out to this staff writer’s small, central-Pennsylvania hometown), you know that trips to the public pool were often the only thing you looked forward to during the dog days of August.

Even if you only went a couple times a week, for just a few hours, the memory of being “at the pool” probably seems giant-sized compared to other childhood trips to, say, the grocery store with your mom.

In Camas, the public outdoor swimming pool — Clark County’s only — has been inserting itself into local childhood memories for more than 60 years.

There is no doubt that the pool is beloved. When city officials recently asked community members to weigh in on the future of the pool and the surrounding 7.3-acre Crown Park, 1,400 people responded.

That’s an impressive number for any public survey, but what’s also worth noting are the strong emotional responses connected to the park and to the swimming pool.

You can see the responses for yourself on the city of Camas’ website. For many, the pool was not just a piece of their childhood but part of their family’s story: a place where their parents took them when they were little, where they took their own children and where they spend time with their grandchildren today.

Now, however, city leaders have some tough choices to make. Operating public outdoor pools is an increasingly expensive undertaking for cities throughout the U.S. Some, like Los Angeles, are putting more money into pools, but many are closing public pools and building less-expensive splash pads instead. There’s just no way around it — older pools have problems that cost 10 times as much to fix today than they did just two generations ago.

In fact, replacing city pools often costs just a little more — or even exactly the same — as repairing an older pool. In Camas, the difference between repairing the pool and replacing it is around $100,000: Estimates place repairing the pool at $2.2 million and replacing it with a more maintenance-friendly pool at $2.3 million.

As Randy Curtis, chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, told the Post-Record, it’s a “no brainer” to replace instead of repair.

The question now is this: Does the city replace the pool with another or does it scrap the outdoor pool in favor of a public “splash pad” water feature?

Many will have strong feelings about these options. Luckily, there is still a chance to let your city leaders know how you feel.

A new survey asks Camas residents to share their thoughts on the two options under consideration for Crown Park and Pool.

One option keeps the county’s only public, outdoor pool, replacing it with a newer version that won’t require the high level of upkeep a 63-year-old pool demands. The other option gets rid of the pool and puts in an interactive water feature.

Although we are pro-pool here (just the smell of chlorine and the sound of children shouting and splashing erases 35 years from our minds), we would urge all residents to go to the city’s website, find the new survey — due by Friday, Aug. 4 — add their voice to this debate and let Camas leaders know what they hope to see in Crown Park 20, 30, even 60 years from now.