Save Our Pool is both the rallying cry and the name of a newly-formed citizen action committee dedicated to ensuring the Patagonia Pool’s long-term availability for community use.
The possibility of the pool’s permanent closure became the subject of discussion at the Nov. 2019 board meeting when Superintendent Rachael Hochheim expressed her concern that the expense of operating the pool is not a good use of the school’s limited financial resources.
Fearful that the facility may no longer be available for their use, several community members who use the pool regularly attended the school board meeting to learn more about the pool’s future. Since that school board meeting, the concerned citizens have held an organizational meeting and the Town of Patagonia has held a work session devoted to the issue.
The collaboration between the school board and the town government goes back to 1986 when the two school districts joined forces with the town in an agreement ”for the construction of a swimming pool to be located on the grounds of the Patagonia Union High School.” A subsequent agreement, signed in 1988, set forth more specific terms for the pool’s operation and support including the establishment of an operating and maintenance fund and fixing responsibility for operations with the town.
A 2004 update of that agreement shifted responsibility for operations to the school district but maintained the shared funding arrangement that had been in force from the beginning.
That agreement called for each party to budget $10,000 in support of pool operations each year. According to Town Manager Ron Robinson, Patagonia has annually paid that amount but suspended payments as of Oct. 1, 2019 pending the results of an audit of the pool’s financial position. The town’s funds are being set aside in a reserve fund and will be released when the mayor and council are satisfied that the funds are properly spent.
Citizen activist and pool patron Jan Herron reported that Save Our Pool (SOP) is organizing primarily to raise funds for keeping the pool open to the public. At its organizational meeting on Dec. 5, the group drafted vision, mission and goal statements and assigned members tasks such as gathering history of the pool’s funding and looking into potential sources of funding to support ongoing operations.
The next meeting of SOP is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 1:00 p.m. at a place yet to be determined. Herron would like to hear from anyone who knows about the history of raising funds for the pool or who wishes to help in any way to keep it open for the benefit of the students and the community at large. She can be reached at 520-275-6439.