Preseason at the newly refurbished Wenatchee City Pool begins in five short days.

Spring is a season of renewal. That's especially true for Wenatchee's only public pool. Not long ago it was cordoned off as it awaited long-delayed structural repairs.

For years the pool was systemically outmoded. David Erickson, who heads up the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, inherited a bit of a mess: the piping was decades old in some cases; the plaster liner was a quarter-century old.

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The city was slow to make vital repairs - partly because of perennial underfunding. And partly because the pool "was still operating at an acceptable level," Erickson says. But by 2020 the pool's deficiencies were glaring enough to warrant a plumbing overhaul.

This invited a nagging question: how do we pay for repairs?

"We went after a number of different grants," Erickson says. "Two of them are state youth athletic facility grants - those generally take about a year from the time you apply to the time you find out if you're on the funding list. And another six to eight months to get your contract."

The city also secured a grant from the State Department of Commerce. Erickson credits outgoing State Sen. Brad Hawkins (R-Wenatchee) for helping facilitate that.

Construction began in July and was pretty much smooth sailing from there on out, according to Erickson.

"We found a couple of pipes from the original gutter system, which was abandoned in 1971," he says. "Once we realized what they were, it was not really an issue at all. It took us a couple of hours to figure out what it was."

Public pools have a tortured history in this country; for years they were an emblem of racial bigotry. Colman Pool in Seattle is by no means the most lurid example, but attempts to integrate the pool were met with flagrant nastiness.

But from Erickson's vantage point, the Wenatchee pool is a force for good, for social harmony.

"We'll run through about 800 kids each year - teach them how to swim. The economic impact to the community, just from the swim meets alone, is over a million dollars each year."

Preseason is usually reserved for special occasions. The pool opens to the general public on June 15.

Tri-Cities Pools You Can Rent by the Hour

Find a pool near you on Swimply.

Gallery Credit: Curated by Dan Roberts

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