by nathan oster
As 2012 begins, the swimming pool issue is coming back around for the community — and in particular the Greybull Town Council and Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees.
The committee formed to explore potential long-range solutions for the pool will meet this week to talk strategy — and right now, the discussion begins with the need for $13,000 to pay for an architect to draw up proposals for a new pool.
Sara Schlattmann is a member of the committee and points out, up front, that it “has no say or money” and that it will need to approach both the town council and the school board in the hopes of generating the $13,000.
That could happen as early as next week.
Schlattmann said committee members and other volunteers have tried to solicit public input, visiting with people at football games in the fall and even going so far as to visit the senior center to gauge the interest of the community’s older residents, who typically show up to the polls in big numbers.
“The majority of the people have said, ‘Yes we want a pool,’ and that they would like for it to be an indoor pool,” Schlattmann said. “Do we have a great cross section (of the community)? I don’t know. It’s hard to say. But we got quite a few respondents.”
In order for the issue to even get that far, the $13,000 bridge must first be crossed.
“It’s going to come down to whether the town council and the school board are interested in moving forward with it,” Schlattmann said.
Schlattmann said the architect’s focus would be on creating a plan for the pool to take to voters later this year. It will include an analysis of potential sites, including the parking area directly east of the existing pool, the wooded area between the tennis courts and the elementary school and an area within close proximity of the Art Schutte Sports Complex on Greybull River Road.
Schlattmann said the committee’s hope is to build a pool similar in size to the existing one. If possible, it would prefer a “zero entry pool” which would allow young kids to simply walk into the pool instead of having to jump in. A deeper diving area and a slide are also options the committee has discussed.
Schlattmann said one local business, Big Horn Federal, recently stepped up, committing to make a $2,500 donation in support of the pool project, which she said could potentially be a starting point in the $13,000 discussion.
While the committee focuses on the future, the question of the present is, how well is the community supporting the existing pool?
Vickie Collingwood, who last year replaced Cassie Russell as pool manager, said 2011 was a good year for the pool. Swimming lessons were popular, as the first session last summer drew 86, the second 81 and the third 35.
Collingwood said the summer open swims in June and July drew an average of 23 kids per day. August, when the pool begins to phase into winter hours, was down slightly, but Collingwood said September saw 44 people utilize the pool during open swims Tuesday nights, Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons.
In both October and November, 42 people attended open swims. December was “way down, but that doesn’t surprise me,” Collingwood said.
Collingwood said several special events held at the pool went over very well, including Friday swims and the floating pumpkin patch, which drew 66 people. In the coming months, she hopes to try a “family swim,” a Wednesday after school swim for kids, a night swim and possibly even an aqua volleyball league.