Plans to reopen the Briarcliff Pool are on hold pending the ability to fund the facility, according to Rainier School Interim Superintendent Joesph Hattrick.
“I want to reopen it,” Hattrick said. “It’s just a matter of time and figuring out what kind of creative financing options we can come up with.”
Hattrick acknowledges that the challenge is finding the estimated $180,000 cost of maintaining and operating the pool, which is housed on the campus of Rainier Jr./Sr. High School.
“I have received pressure from both sides of this,” he said. “Some community members want to close the pool, but the majority want to keep it and see it reopen.”
The pool closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was disappointed when I started as interim superintendent that the pool was not being used and was closed,” Hattrick said. “It had not been budgeted for the school year. I still believe the pool is a huge service to our community.”
The Briarcliff Pool was constructed in 1978 following community concerns about swim safety for area children.
An effort by some community members to raise funds to reopen the pool to allow the school district’s swim team to practice was launched in 2019. A long-term goal of the community group was to take over operations and management of the pool from the school district.
Hattrick said that effort was sidetracked by the pandemic.
“That is not something that is currently happening,” he said.
District budget impact
Hattrick said one of his goals as he assembles a proposed new district budget is to keep close tabs on the school finances and opening up the pool for a select few still would incur a great cost.
“I am really trying to avoid not-budgeted expenses and the pool would fall within that category,” he said.
Hattrick said that’s why the creative financing solutions are important to the pool’s future. He said in that effort he is reaching out for community partnerships and seeking different funding sources, such as grants.
“I am trying to figure out creatively where it is not going to be a cost that will take funds away from education, but it can be an additional service, rather than take away from those dollars that should go into the classrooms,” he said.
According to Hattrick, the pandemic continues to cloud the future of the Briarcliff Pool.
“As soon as we are about to open up athletics again, open up in-person instruction at some level, I’d like our school swim team to have the same options, but we have to figure out even a bandaid solution how students can participate.”
Hattract said his priorities are still the same.
“It’s my understanding the pool was brought to the community because of pretty big need, so by no means do I want to take that away,” he said. “It is still a huge service to the community and I want to figure out how we can reopen it.”
Hattrick said he is asking for community patience as the district navigates what he hopes to be the end of the pandemic and all of the restrictions.
“As we develop plans and opportunities, I will message the community and let them know either how they can take part in some of the solutions, or give them frequent updates in the direction we are going,” he said.
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