Efforts to replace the public pool in Crook County are underway once again, and members of the community are asking local governments for help financing it.

The Crook County Parks and Recreation District’s pool advisory committee is establishing a plan for a new pool after it hired BLRB Architects to provide possible design options and a price tag, committee chairman Wayne Looney said.

The next steps involve a feasibility study to determine what the community desires and how to reduce the cost of the estimated $23 million indoor facility, he said.

“There’s a lot of sticker shock involved in this process,” Looney said. “We are trying to determine what it is that the community wants, what they are willing to pay and how to meet those numbers.”

The park district tried to finance a new pool with bond measures in 2006 and 2007, but both measures failed to get voter approval.

The advisory committee is asking Crook County to file the bond measure and the City of Prineville to help pay operating costs of the pool if it’s built.

“I see local governments coming together for that common goal,” Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester said. “I would draw a parallel with the pool project and the jail bond because it’s a grassroots community effort that got the ball rolling.”

The Prineville swimming pool is an outdoor, seasonal facility built in 1954. The park district tried to pass a bond for a new, $12 million pool in November 2006, but the measure failed 51 percent to 49 percent. A second bond attempt was defeated in May 2007.

“I was born here, and the pool was old when I was a young boy” Forrester said. “It’s a piece of infrastructure that badly needs to be redone, but it’s going to take a lot of work to do it.”

A county-wide taxing district would reduce individual costs compared to a bond for residents of the park district, and voters are more likely to approve a smaller tax increase, Looney said.

“There is a strong desire to replace the pool — there’s no question about that — but there’s also a lot of concern about how we pay for it,” he said.

The advisory committee is working with FM3 — a surveying company from California — and hopes to have survey data from a feasibility study by mid-February regarding what the community wants in a pool facility, Looney said. If the City of Prineville and the park district can agree to share the operating costs of a new indoor pool, the committee hopes to get a new county-wide bond on the November ballot.

“That’s a press, but it’s still our goal,” he said.

As Crook County becomes a more vibrant and progressive community, replacing the pool makes sense, Looney said.

“A community like that needs to have (a public pool),” he said. “There’s value in it, and this is a piece of the puzzle that people need for a progressive community.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7829, acolosky@bendbulletin.com

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