In Our View: Ahead for Hough

Its days as community swimming pool are over, but facility can serve in other ways

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One of the keys to happiness and prosperity, we believe, is the ability to focus on where you are going, rather than reminiscing about where you have been.

That advice will come in handy for the people of the Hough neighborhood and the members of the Hough Foundation as they continue to forge a new beginning for Hough Pool. That future is rich with possibilities, even if a little nostalgic reflection is unavoidable.

Born out of the generosity of Paul Christensen and the nonprofit Hough Foundation, the pool was built in 1997. It was given as a gift to the city of Vancouver, then returned to the control of the foundation because it was losing money. It was financially propped up by Christensen’s company, Realvest, but that funding dried up when Realvest declared bankruptcy in January 2010.

Along the way, Hough Pool nobly served its purpose.

As The Columbian wrote in a February 2010 editorial: “For more than a decade the residents of the Hough community in west Vancouver have been served, strengthened and connected by their neighborhood pool. It’s not the biggest or the fanciest, but no one has ever doubted to whom the Hough Pool belongs.”

To summarize: Hough Pool was loved. It will be missed. Now it’s time to move on.

That is what the Hough Foundation is doing as it presses forward with plans to reinvent the facility. According to a recent story in The Columbian by reporter Andrea Damewood, the possibilities are vast, and likely will reflect the foundation’s mission.

As the group’s Web site says: “Our vision is for a healthy, thriving community transformed by empowered citizens who are actively engaged in the creation of an environment where children and families learn, grow and strengthen their connections to one another.”

Swimming — through lessons, clubs, and recreational opportunities — helped provide that growth. That is one reason that many neighborhood residents have lamented the loss of the pool since it closed 19 months ago, hoping there was some way it could reopen.

Hough Foundation officials have made it clear that isn’t going to happen. “The repairs that are needed for the pool just for today are so extensive that I don’t see in the next decade to be able to reopen that pool,” executive director Kate Sacamano said. On the other hand, there’s no reason the facility can’t continue to serve the community in other ways.

Current plans call for the conversion of the building into a multipurpose center with an early childhood education center, after-school programs, and community space. The foundation has been working with advisers from the University of Portland to develop a neuroeducation program that combines neuroscience, psychology and education to create improved teaching methods.

“We could serve a lot more children over the long haul and it will not be as financially challenging for the foundation,” Sacamano said.

The pool has been and will be missed, but the facility can serve the public in even better ways. If the pool wasn’t financially viable after more than a decade, perhaps that wasn’t the best use of a valuable building near the heart of the city.

That might not be much consolation for the swimmers of the Hough neighborhood. But excellent pool facilities can be found nearby at the Marshall Center, the Washington School for the Blind, and Propstra Aquatic Center.

It’s time for Hough Pool to be renovated and renewed and rekindled as a linchpin of the neighborhood. Perhaps something wonderful will come out of it.

As an old saying goes, “If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.”