Portland Parks and Recreation is facing a significant budget shortfall and is proposing to close Columbia Pool (7701 N Chautauqua Blvd) next year.
Since hearing the news, many neighbors have started to voice concern, wondering why such a vital North Portland resource could be on the chopping block. To help understand Portland Parks and Recreation’s justifications, Everett Wild, Policy & Communications Advisor for Commissioner Fish, provided the following response from Portland Parks and Recreation to the Portsmouth Neighborhood Association:
Columbia Pool is the only proposed reduction in the Aquatics and Sports program. All of PP&R’s outdoor pools and pools attached to community centers are funded. Columbia has a maintenance backlog of $2 million, mostly for a much-needed new roof.
The pool requires a little over $750,000 to operate every year (staff, utilities, materials like chlorine, etc.), and generates only $320,000 in revenue from users and program fees. That does not include the $2 million of needed major maintenance.
The bureau’s proposed budget option was developed with the following criteria:
- minimize revenue loss and reduce deferred maintenance liability;
- recognize and prioritize partnerships with community organizations that can help absorb or offset some costs, and identify locations where similar options are nearby at a similar value;
- maintain equitable geographic access and equitable service to people with few to no alternatives (like low-income families and older adults) and underserved populations (like communities of color and immigrants and refugees); and
- maximize the use of full-service community centers, which generate significant revenue and have both high capacity and flexible spaces.
Here are the talking points that accompanied the slide from the presentation to the Budget Advisory Committee meeting you mentioned:
- To optimize available resources, we are prioritizing full-service community centers, and the long-term goal is to have an aquatics facility at Charles Jordan Community Center.
- This goal, coupled with the significant maintenance required to keep Columbia Pool open, means we are proposing to close the facility in July of 2020.
- We are requesting one year of funding to operate Columbia Pool and find alternatives for stakeholders like Rosa Parks Elementary, PIL, Roosevelt High School, and the surrounding community to transition those uses to other locations.
Don’t agree? Take action and convince our representatives that Columbia Pool should remain in operation!
The KNA will be sending the following letter to city officials, and neighbors can do the same using this template. Besides submitting comments online, neighbors can also email the following contacts:
Ted Wheeler – Mayor, email@example.com
Chloe Eudaly – Commissioner, chloe@PortlandOregon.gov
Nick Fish – Commissioner (oversees Portland Parks and Recreation), firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Fritz – Commissioner, email@example.com
Jo Ann Hardesty – Commissioner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Official contact email for Portland Parks and Recreation, ParksBudget@portlandoregon.gov
The city provides some opportunities for public testimony at budget related events. A full list is available here. The next event is on April 2nd. Details below:
Townhall Budget Forum with Public Testimony by Lottery (tickets available starting at 5:30pm)
Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
IRCO Main Office – Gym, 10301 NE Glisan Street, Portland, OR 97220
Along with the Portsmouth Neighborhood Association and Friends of Columbia Park, the KNA is looking to form a coalition of aligned community organizations and neighbors to collaborate and coordinate on saving Columbia Pool. If you would like to be part of this movement, please let us know.