The current ongoing discussions of the future of the Patagonia Pool began in the fall of 2019. At the Patagonia High School and Elementary School Board meetings an administrator recommended permanently closing the pool.

The reaction was immediate. Both school boards and community members commented on the role of the pool as an important community asset. As a result, the Friends of the Patagonia Pool, or FOPP, was organized in January of 2020.

FOPP secured grant money and donations for the pool. To date, $12,500 has been raised with an additional $5,800 in uncollected pledges. FOPP also encouraged the pool owners to extend the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that governs the management of the pool from June 30, 2020 to October 31, 2020. That’s right, the current IGA expires in less than a month!

Our efforts have been hampered by several unforeseen circumstances. COVID-19 has impacted the budgets of the three pool owners, Patagonia Elementary, PUHS, and the Town of Patagonia. The Pool Advisory Committee (PAC) experienced several changes in committee members and hasn’t gained much traction in forming a plan to understand the feasibility of opening the pool nor the true extent of repairs needed to the structure.

Efforts to clean the pool have been bogged down by leaving it unattended from August 2019 to July 2020, a lack of understanding of how to maintain the new pump and filters (2 years old) and available time of school personnel to properly maintain it.

FOPP is currently focusing its efforts on obtaining additional grant money to pay for an extensive physical audit and needs assessment. The process analyzes the infrastructure used in the operation and maintenance of the pool. It also includes an ongoing maintenance plan, training for personnel, and other levels of support for a successful opening. The pool owners and FOPP agree that an assessment is needed. Without it, we don’t have enough facts to make a rational decision about whether to move forward to save it.

Our biggest enemy right now is time. The clock is ticking down to the end of the IGA. In order for our pool to stand a chance, that IGA must be extended.

FOPP stands ready to financially back the professional clean-up of the pool and three months of professional maintenance after that. In return we need the assurance of an extended IGA (we’ve asked to have it extended until June 30, 2021). We would use that time to fundraise for, and get, the professional assessment which would guide the next steps, and make sure we don’t unnecessarily cut short the life of our wonderful community pool.

We have formally asked for an agenda item to be placed on the October 14 Town Council and School Board meetings to extend the IGA through June 30, 2021. The Town and the School Board presidents indicated that they would add such an agenda item to their agendas.

Many of you use the pool – for lap swimming, water aerobics, entertainment for your children, grandchildren and guests. Swimming lessons were provided to area children and we hear there even used to be a swim team.

The cost to build a new pool the same size would be at least $800,000 – just construction costs. The assessment would cost less than 2.5% of that and comparisons with other similar pools indicate that annual operation and maintenance should cost about $45,000. Revenues could easily be $15,000. The Town and the Schools understandably need to reduce their financial burden.

How much is it worth to you?