Letter to the editor:
“The location of the proposed swimming pool and recreational facility”.
There has been much talk about this particular issue, for many years already. The many conflicting stories have caused a very sad controversy about such a beautiful project in Woodland. The Pool Committee has given the honest facts about the pool location at Horseshoe Lake Park. The very best way to address this issue, as to where the new facility will be located, was to show a real visible view of where it will be, right at Horseshoe Lake Park! We have done so on Monday, September 25, 2006. It was quite obvious that very limited park space will be consumed by the pool and recreational facility.
The pool facility will NOT take over most of the Park as stated for years! In fact, the boundary lines clearly prove the pool facility will not be built IN the Park, but rather AT the park! Therefore, it is absolutely untrue to state as if the Easter Egg Hunt or Planters Day activities can not take place anymore. There will be plenty of room left to continue those great traditions in OUR Community park, after the pool and recreational facility is built. This facility will enhance the park.
I read an editorial in “The Reflector” last week with the headline: “History shows interest in a Woodland pool”. This interest apparently dates back to 1940. Imagine the incredible amount of volunteer’s work that has been done over the years, trying to get a pool in our community! What was missing in this 65 year history overview is the fact that the Glenwood and Columbia location, available to the pool committee since 1991, ran into a complete dead end situation around 1995. That was a crucial factor, which every one in the community needs to be reminded of. Because of that, the Pool committee did a very extensive review in 1996 to find out why the interest completely died at that location. Many pool experts were asked for their opinion. Every expert we talked to came back with the very same conclusion: DO NOT build a pool and recreational facility in an industrial area!
They told us to find a recreational location, because that would be the ideal surrounding for a pool facility. We could not ignore such expert advice! Even though we are volunteers; it is our obligation to do what is best for our community. We looked around in 1997 and we found the perfect location: the Horseshoe Lake Park. When we approached the City with this idea every official we talked to was very enthusiastic about it. One of the reasons was that a pool in the park was already in the Comprehensive plan of Woodland at that time!
There were numerous workshops and public hearings on this issue. We received unanimous approvals by the Park Board, Planning Commission and the Woodland Pool and Recreation District. The City Council was convinced, after the public and many experts had spoken, and by a 5-0 vote it was decided to allow a pool facility on the east side of the Park! This was in 1997. We had approval, we had the major funding lined up and the community was behind it. Everything looked great!
What followed was that the Pool Committee was halted by only one person against the project. We could not move forward for several years, because of a number of road blocks we had to deal with. Just a few people in the opposition used the opportunity to create controversy by claiming the pool would take up over half the park and the historical nature of the old riverbed. To resolve those concerns, my wife Klazina and I bought almost one acre, located right next to the park, but that did not stop the opposition, even though we clearly added extra space to the park.
There were several more hearings and City Council approvals during this time. Then the 5th and final City Council approval resulted in an Agreement, which was signed between the City of Woodland and the Woodland Swimming Pool and Recreational District, on March 18, 2002. Of course, we thought at that time we could put everything in full motion and finally realize this dream for our community. Then the City, Pool Committee, the District and Benno and Klazina Dobbe were sued and that halted the project for the last 4+ years. We finally prevailed, and after about 8 years of going through all those delays we felt the opposition would feel compelled to finally put their differences aside for the good of our community. I sincerely hope they will.
Not too long ago we received the best support imaginable for our pool project, because the YMCA made a solid commitment to help, in every way possible, to promote the pool at the park project. Even better, the YMCA is willing to operate the recreational facility for the Pool District, once built. Of course, both the Pool Committee and the Pool District welcome this support with wide open arms! What better team to have on our side, advising and supporting us, then the YMCA. One of the main reasons the YMCA wanted to be involved was the perfect facility style and the Park location!
There is no need for more discussions or debates as to where the pool site needs to be. There is an Agreement in place allowing a pool at the park. It is therefore the position of the pool committee to move forward in good faith with the City and finalize this project according to this Agreement, dated back to March 18, 2002.
However, we would like to give everyone a chance to ask questions about this project. The Swimming pool Committee and the YMCA will hold a joint public meeting for that purpose sometime this fall, most likely at the Woodland School. Very soon we will announce when this meeting will take place.
We still need to raise quite a lot of money in order to start building. We hope to break ground next year and have phase # 1 of the facility in operation in 2008. In order to raise the money necessary to accomplish this goal, we need to show donors of this great project that we have plenty of support in our community.
I strongly believe our community does not want to go through more controversy about this issue. Enough is enough! Please think about all those kids who want to swim, the teenagers who need a recreational facility, parents and senior citizens who want to have a community center. We need this civic hub for all! This Pool and Recreational Facility at the Park issue is not about me, or the pool committee. Not about the opposition either. This project is about OUR community, about Woodland.
Benno. A.P. Dobbe, president of the WCSPC.