Woodland moves closer to making pool dream a reality

Alex Peru
Alex Peru

WOODLAND — The Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee (WCSPC) released a statement recently announcing that committee members had submitted a request to place a bond in the Nov. 7, 2017 special election to help fund a community pool and YMCA project.

The bond comes as a result of an agreement in Dec. 2016 between the WCSPC and the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette.

Under the agreement, the YMCA will take on 51 percent ownership and 100 percent operational responsibility of the proposed facility. Voters within the Woodland Pool and Recreational District, which is defined by the boundaries of the Woodland School District, will decide whether the bond is approved in the upcoming election.

Bob Hall (on left), president and CEO of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, and Benno Dobbe (on right), chairman of the Woodland Swimming Pool Steering Committee, discuss the effort to bring a community swimming pool to Woodland. Photo by Mike Schultz
Bob Hall (on left), president and CEO of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, and Benno Dobbe (on right), chairman of the Woodland Swimming Pool Steering Committee, discuss the effort to bring a community swimming pool to Woodland. Photo by Mike Schultz

The bond will cover 49 percent of the cost of the pool and recreation center. It is a 20-year bond and covers $7,990,000 of the total cost of the project. According to a press release from the WCSPC, the bond will cost each property owner in the district 35 cents for every $1,000 of property value. This means that each property owner will pay $35 per year per $100,000 of property value in property taxes.

The other 51 percent of the cost of the facility would be covered by grants, new market tax credits, philanthropy and gifts in kind, according to the press release.

After a market study conducted last year, the WCSPC found a large amount of support for a community pool and recreation center. According to the WCSPC website, in seeking grants the organization found that many potential donors would not support the project unless the YMCA provided 51 ownership, because the donors want the facility “to be a financial success.”

“We have all the ingredients to make it happen,” Benno Dobbe, chairman of the Woodland Swimming Pool Steering Committee and owner of Holland America Flowers, said.

According to Dobbe, various efforts in Woodland have tried for the past 50 years to construct a pool in the community. Dobbe himself became involved in 1995. He said that in his native country of the Netherlands, all communities have a pool, and in the United States, that is not the case.

The YMCA has been involved in the Woodland pool project for the last 14 years, according to Bob Hall, president and CEO of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette.

The YMCA project is important to the community, said Dobbe, because no facilities in the Woodland area serve people “from the kids all the way up to the elderly citizens for activities for recreation.” The completion of a YMCA would fill a “definite need,” Dobbe said.

“We strongly believe in the vision of Benno and his team to bring these kinds of services to the community,” Hall said.

Dobbe and Hall said that it is important for Woodland to have a pool because of the town’s vicinity to water. They hope the pool would allow people to learn to swim in a safe environment and prevent accidents and drownings on the water.

A bond will appear as a ballot measure in November to approve funding for a Woodland pool and YMCA complex. Photo by Mike Schultz
A bond will appear as a ballot measure in November to approve funding for a Woodland pool and YMCA complex. Photo by Mike Schultz

If constructed, the Woodland YMCA would serve a large portion of Clark and Cowlitz counties, including La Center, Yacolt, Kalama and even Kelso and Longview, Dobbe said. The proposed bond comes as groups in both Battle Ground and Ridgefield are trying to build YMCA facilities in their cities.

Dobbe and Hall said that the construction of other YMCAs in Clark County would not be a problem for the proposed Woodland facility. Each one would serve a unique community, and potentially offer different activities they said. As such, they would not act as competitors to the Woodland facility.

The proposed facility would have a footprint of 40,000 square feet, and would house not only a pool but a fitness center, running track and other exercise equipment and child care facilities.  

It will be located on the site of the Lakeside Motel, which the WCSPC purchased several years ago. Dobbe said that if the bond passes, work will begin by demolishing the motel next year, with construction on the new facility beginning in 2019.

“Everyone I talk to is very much in favor of this location,” Dobbe said. “The timing is perfect, the location is perfect.”

Hall said that the YMCA is “honored to be a part of the process.”

“They call me tenacious in this project,” Dobbe said, “and I am proud of it.”

More information about the WCSPC pool and YMCA efforts can be found on the organization’s website at http://woodlandymca.org/.

About The Author

Alex Peru is a 2017 graduate of Washington State University Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a double minor in Political Science and Business Administration. Peru grew up in Battle Ground, and graduated from CAM Academy in 2013. He worked for The VanCougar, WSU Vancouver’s campus newspaper, for three years, including one year as the editor-in-chief. When not working, Peru enjoys reading books about history, working on cars and enjoying the outdoors in Clark County’s beautiful rivers, lakes and forests.

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