Dayton city pool

Mayor Craig George (far left) looks on as Dayton residents Vicki Zoller (at left with camera) and Lisa Naylor examine the city pool. A city employee walks inside the pool. A variety of maintenance issues with the pool, including tripping hazards like the crack in the lower left, forced the city to close it for the summer.

DAYTON — Regular visitors to the city’s pool will need to find a new swimming hole for the summer.

Dayton will keep its pool closed this year, but city staff and residents are mobilizing to make sure it doesn’t remain closed permanently.

Dayton City Council voted to keep the pool closed this summer at its Apr. 11 meeting because the structure’s dilapidated condition has become a liability issue, according to Mayor Craig George.

Deep cracks jutting out of the concrete create tripping hazards, he said, and other issues with the pool’s drainage system are also concerns. Nevertheless, closing the pool “was not an easy decision, but it’s one that had to be made,” he said.

The costs of repairs to the pool are unclear, George said.

An estimate provided by engineers indicates fixes to immediately visible issues, such as a plugged drain system, settling and cracked concrete on the deck and holes in the pool’s clean-out boxes, would cost between $5,000 and $10,000, according to a news release. But city staff have warned there may be other issues not immediately visible from the outside.

The city plans to seek an engineering firm to check the pool out more thoroughly, but that process likely won’t be able to start until June or July.

The city, George said, has “kicked the can down the road” through repaints and other short-term fixes, but “now the time has come to get this thing fixed, and fixed right.”

With that timeline, he said, the pool will be closed this summer and possibly longer.

Meanwhile, Dayton’s residents are not standing by. A post about the closure appeared in local Facebook group “All Things Dayton, WA” on Friday, and George said several people had since arrived at City Hall to express their concerns.

A small group toured the pool Monday to get a grasp on the situation. Among them was Dayton resident Vicki Zoller, who has led many of the online discussions of the pool.

“When you look at rural communities, how they rise and fall and how they prosper depends on the infrastructure they can offer people,” she said. “Having a pool, even if it’s one that’s not making enough to sustain itself, is much better than not having a pool.”

Zoller said she hoped Dayton could realize a more ambitious vision for the pool, similar to the rehabilitation of Walla Walla’s Memorial Pool last year. But she recognized that may not be realistic. The Memorial Pool project cost over $6 million, mostly in grants.

“We’re going to have to pick our battles, and figure out what works,” she said.

That might require some combination of donations, grants or tax dollars, but Zoller said that without a clear idea of what the pool needs, it’s hard to say what community efforts will look like.

The Dayton Chamber of Commerce launched a “Pigs for the Pool” fundraiser, collecting and distributing piggy banks to be filled with donations to the pool. However, that fundraising idea has stalled for now, Zoller said, because it needs official board approval.

“My guess, though, is that they’re going to want to be a part of all of this,” she said.

George said the city has also asked the Chamber to hold off until the pool’s needs are better understood.

Zoller and fellow Dayton resident Lisa Naylor have also created a “Friends of the Dayton Community Pool” Facebook page and have discussed partnering with local nonprofits to gather and manage funds for the pool.

“We need real dollars to improve our pool ... and we’re going to need to reach outside of our community,” she said.

But, Zoller added, she’s hopeful. “This is not the first little community to face this issue, and it will not be the last,” she said.

Andy Monserud can be reached at andymonserud@wwub.com or 526-8326.

​Andy Monserud can be reached at andymonserud@wwub.com or 509-526-8326.

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