By Pat Caldwell
VALE – When Vale City Manager Lynn Findley looks across the aqua-colored expanse at the city swimming pool he doesn’t necessarily see just water.
Instead, Findley said when he views the pool the vision conjures up a tangible symbol of a vibrant city, one that cares enough about recreation to make sizeable investments in its swimming facility every year.
“It is really an incredible thing,” Findley said of the pool.
Built in 1967, the Vale pool remains the only active swimming facility in Malheur County. Ontario’s Aquatic Center shuttered several years ago and the next closet pool is in Payette.
“We have always put a lot of money and resources into the pool,” Findley said.
The reason, he said, is the pool is just one part of a larger effort to create a healthy community.
“The pool is not a revenue generator but it is something the community has to have. It is a subsidy for a healthy, viable community,” he said. “You have to figure out what is healthy for the community.”
The city doesn’t foot the whole bill to operate the pool, Findley said. The city also receives funds for the facility – in the form of grants – from Oregon Parks and Recreation and the Wood Family Trust. The money helps keep the facility open and also fuels upgrades like a new pool liner and a new slide currently under construction.
The pool liner, Findley said, cost about $60,000. The last liner was placed in 2001, he said.
“The (2001) liner was good for 10 years. We got 14 out of it,” he said.
Funds for the pool also help with other minor upgrades to the plumbing, he said.
The pool typically opens in early June – just after the end of school – and closes in late September. Findley said the advantages of the pool are subtle but important.
“Eighty percent of Vale sixth-graders know how to swim,” he said.
Findley said the city can also leverage the pool’s availability to help in other ways.
“Last year we worked with Nyssa, with the migrant program, and kids over came over here and we taught them how to swim,” he said.
When the Ontario Aquatic Center shut down, Findley said, more people arrived in Vale to take advantage of the pool.
“After Ontario closed, usage increased 30 percent,” he said.
Findley said finding a way to support a facility like the pool was an easy one and, at the end of the day, a good decision.
“We have a pool and we support it,” he said.
316 Main St.
Season opens: June 4
Family passes, group and individual swim lessons, lap swim, open swim, water aerobics, and more.
Admission: $3 for open swim;
Season passes: Non-Vale city residents $140; Vale residents $125
Monthly Passes: Individuals: $40/Families: $70
To purchase a pass: Visit Vale City Hall, 252 B St. W, Vale.