Built in 1983, the Daniel Meyer pool is almost 35 years old and currently is in need of significant repair. Even with stop-gap repairs, a replacement will almost certainly be required within the next 5 to 10 years. A replacement facility has been proposed that would serve all current uses plus many other uses requested by the community. The cost is estimated at $3.5 million, about $1 million more than just replacing the existing pool.
The proposed Daniel Meyer aquatic facility would be covered, allowing for year-round operation (the Daniel Meyer Pool is currently only open to the public seasonally.)
The main pool would be 25 meters by 25 yards in size (note this is not an Olympic-sized pool but is rather half that size), with a shallow end similar to the current pool for standing. It would allow for all current recreation use as well as competition training and meets.
A second smaller, shallow pool would be kept warmer to provide the opportunity for small children swim lessons, family recreation, providing therapy sessions, relief for joint pain, and water aerobics classes, among other uses.
The current Daniel Meyer Pool typically allows only one user group at a time because of its small size. The proposed facility, with the two pools and a larger size, would allow for multiple user groups to concurrently schedule time at the facility. A 25-yard by 25-meter pool can have as many as 12 lanes, which could accommodate multiple user groups at the same time. This means that it would be possible to offer lap swim to the community if one of the other user groups were using the pool, which is currently not possible.
As a reference point, the proposed pool rebuild, with a seasonal cover for year-round operation, will provide a facility nearly identical to the facility in Hood River, Oregon, a town of 7,700 citizens. At around 22,000 citizens, Ashland is nearly three times that population size, but has no public, year-round aquatic facility. There are numerous examples of communities around the state of Oregon about the size of Ashland or smaller (Newberg, North Bend, Coos Bay, Cottage Grove and Madras, to name a few) with year-round facilities similar to this proposal. Currently, Ashland High School swim teams are not able to hold swim meets in their own hometown, due to the lack of an appropriate aquatic facility.
With the current pool nearing the end of its life-cycle, now would be the appropriate and fiscally responsible time to plan for and fund a facility that will more comprehensively meet the needs of all of the citizens of Ashland.
To offer a better idea of those who could benefit from a new facility such as the one proposed, here is a list of some of the programs and groups that the Hood River pool serves: recreation swimmers, lap swimmers, masters swimmers, age group swimmers, high school swim teams, high school water polo teams, swim lessons for the general public, swim lessons for all elementary kids as part of the school curriculum, U.S. Masters Swimming Adult Learn to Swim program (for free each spring giving lessons to 50-80 people), aqua aerobics classes, adult Power classes, kayak lessons and practice time, senior gentle swim, therapy sessions, water safety and lifeguard classes. (A link to the aquatic schedule for the Hood River pool can be found here: hoodriverparksandrec.org/aquatic-center-schedule/.)
Given the aging condition of the current Daniel Meyer Pool and the fact that replacing it with a better facility that would serve more Ashland citizens over a longer season would only cost $1 million more than replacing it as is, we find it logical and fiscally responsible to plan for our community's future now by investing in a much-improved aquatics facility that can be enjoyed by our community year-round.
—Matt Miller and Rick Landt are Ashland Parks & Recreation Commissioners. Park Views appears monthly.