CAMAS — Kids in Camas are using one summer tradition to try to save another.
City officials announced in 2017 that the Crown Park pool would not open this summer, and earlier this year, city councilors decided to demolish the 64-year-old pool. Before the demolition can happen, Camas residents are banding together to try and save the pool. A petition to save the pool was started two weeks ago, and has collected nearly 900 signatures as of Friday afternoon. Kids in the city are pitching in to help where they can.
A group of kids decided to try and raise money to save the pool by opening lemonade stands near Crown Park.
“So far we’ve raised $8,” said Ava McDonnell, 12, of Camas.
While the price tag to bring the pool up to present-day standards or completely renovate it is a bit higher than $8, there was no way to open the pool this year even before the lemonade stands popped up.
City Administrator Pete Capell said city officials received estimates that to bring the aging pool up to code, it would’ve cost somewhere between $481,000 to $710,000. Even if the city paid for the renovation, the length of time to complete the work wouldn’t have allowed the city to open the pool in time for this summer.
“We would’ve lost the season no matter what,” Capell said.
A full renovation of the existing pool would cost $1.69 million to $2.19 million, and a new pool would cost $1.87 million to $2.2 million, Capell said.
The city is expected to demolish the pool this fall, and future plans for Crown Park call for a new splash pad or water feature on the site, as well as other improvements to the park such as an amphitheater, sports court, picnic shelter and restrooms.
On Thursday, a group of Camas residents hosted a pool party at Crown Park to get signatures for the petition, which they are planning on presenting at the city council meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at city hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave.
“It’s a pool party without the pool,” said Anastasia McDonnell, who started a Friends with Crown Park Facebook group and the petition to save the pool, the only outdoor public pool in Clark County. “This is what our summer is going to be.”
The party consisted of kids and their parents eating ice pops and drinking lemonade. Kids ran around the grass hitting each other with pool noodles while wearing pool floats around their waists. They also wrote messages in support of the pool in chalk in front of the pool.
“This is so beautiful the way it is,” said Jake Lewis of Camas. “It’d be a shame to mess with the rustic beauty that is Crown Park.”
McDonnell said the community is in favor of keeping a pool open instead of bringing in a splash pad, and wants to know why city councilors are focused on that option.
“It would help if we understood their decision,” she said.
She also thinks the council could reallocate money from the project to renovate Crown Park as a whole and use it toward renovating or updating the pool.
One reason the city is looking at the splash pad option is because there have been talk about Camas, Washougal and the Port of Camas-Washougal teaming up to build a community center with an indoor aquatic feature that could be used year-round. Capell said the agencies are focused right now on looking at potential locations for the center, so they can start design work.
Capell said the city kept Crown Park pool open 10-12 weeks a year, and had to subsidize the pool with money from the general fund to get it ready for the season and pay everyone who worked there. In 2017, the city subsidized the pool with $122,209, as total revenue was $87,249 and the expenses were $209,458. The pool charged $4 for general admission, $32 for a pack of 10 general passes, $80 for a pack of 25 general passes, $30 for a private single swim lesson and $270 for a pack of 10 private swim lessons.
The Crown Park Planning Advisory Committee is also expected to meet this week to further discuss plans and details for the future of the park.
McDonnell said Crown Park is like “Camas’ Central Park” and said it doesn’t seem fair to take the pool away from families in the city.
“We’re a really strong community, and this is a place we all come,” she said. “It’s a community resource we’re not ready to let go of.”