Prineville’s rejected pool plan in limbo

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: November 11. 2006 5:00AM PST

In the wake of a second defeat at the polls for a ballot measure that would have built a new aquatic center in Prineville, Crook County Parks and Recreation District officials say they are not sure what to do next.

The Crook County Parks and Recreation District Board intends to meet next week to discuss its options. These include floating another ballot measure to voters in 2007 or 2008, and changing the plans to build just an indoor or outdoor pool, said Maureen Crawford, director of the district.

Crawford said the existing outdoor pool, which was built in 1953, is so old that some parts cannot be replaced if they break.

“At some point, our board of directors is going to have to decide, ‘Are we going to continue to put money into this pool and Band-Aid it knowing it could fail, or is it time to shut it down?'” Crawford said. “There are some issues over there that would shut that pool down quickly.”

Crawford said that for now the district is planning to keep the pool open this coming summer.

Supporters of the proposed new pool said they were especially disappointed because the measure to issue $12 million in bonds to construct the new pool failed by a narrow margin, 2,936 “no” votes to 2,774 “yes” votes, according to unofficial election results. By comparison, a measure in 2002 to build a $7.5 million center garnered 3,452 against and 1,647 votes in favor, failing 68 percent to 32 percent.

“That’s progress, I guess,” said Donna Jacobson, co-chairwoman of Volunteers in Action, the political action committee that campaigned in favor of the pool. “It’s pretty clear that a large portion of our community would like to see this happen, so we’re going to have to look at some other alternatives.”

Jacobson and Crawford said they think the bond measure along with an operations levy – which was contingent upon the construction bond passing – failed because of financial considerations.

The two measures combined would have taxed people living in the district at a rate of $1.11 per $1,000, meaning that someone with a house assessed at $200,000 would have paid $222 a year.

“It’s been kind of a rural community, and there’s just kind of an anti-tax sentiment that is pervasive, that is more pervasive than sense of community and we just weren’t able to get it turned around yet,” Jacobson said.

Marvin Akre, 68, said he voted against the pool because the plans seemed too elaborate.

The proposed center would have been open year-round and included an indoor pool, an outdoor pool and multipurpose rooms. It was slated for the current site of Davidson Field, on Southeast Third Street in downtown Prineville.

“It’s just too big a project for our little town,” Akre said. “Prineville definitely needs a new pool, but they don’t need three or four pools and a convention center and I don’t know what all they had planned for that thing … I’d be happy to see them get a new pool, but I just thought they went overboard.”

Forest Carbaugh, a member of the district board, said that a new pool is “something that the community needs very desperately.”

“We need something like this, so it’s just hard to say how it all pans out,” Carbaugh said. “I’d like to see it, maybe we’ll revisit it here in a year or two.”

Crawford said she was surprised at the results of the election because she had spoken to many people in favor of the new pool.

“It was a really neat proposal, but one of the things that I keep telling myself is, ‘Obviously more people didn’t want to vote for it, the people did not want to support it,'” she said. “We don’t want to build something that the people don’t want, but it was very, very close.”

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