By Pat Nelson
Valley Bugler Columnist
When my family moved from Minnesota to Washington in 1953, I didn’t yet know how to swim. But coming from the land of 10,000 lakes, my parents knew swimming was important, so they enrolled me in lessons at the YMCA in Longview. Soon, I was swimming in lakes and rivers with my brothers. I improved my skills in high school where swim lessons were required, and in a class at Lower Columbia College.
I’ve enjoyed swimming for most of my 70 years and swim in Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake and other places as often as I can. For more than 15 years, I’ve driven to Longview three days a week to attend a water aerobics class at the same YMCA where I first learned to swim. For the past five years, the cost of my class has been covered by the Silver Sneakers program, which is provided to eligible Medicare recipients. Still, the cost of driving to Longview three days a week adds up, and I wish I had a place to swim year around closer to home.
Woodland could get its own YMCA. If that happens, Woodland youngsters will have an opportunity to take swim lessons locally. With so much water around us in Horseshoe Lake, Lewis River, and Columbia River, they would be better equipped to play safely in the water. Area residents of all ages would have a place that provides fitness and recreation. And this would be more than a pool, as the plan also calls for a fitness center, indoor walking and running track, exercise studios, multipurpose classrooms, child care and locker rooms.
The Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee (WCSPC) and the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette have agreed to work together to make this happen. The YMCA is offering to take on 51% of the ownership and 100% of the responsibility of the proposed facility including operations and maintenance.
A site for the pool and recreation center has already been secured where the Lakeside Motel is currently located. This location is visible from the freeway and borders Horseshoe Lake Park. If everything goes as planned, the old motel will be demolished early in 2018, and construction will begin in 2019.
The WCSPC has worked for several years to raise funds, aiming to raise slightly more than half of the funds needed for this $16 million project. The other half would come from a proposed 20-year bond, which would cost taxpayers about 35 cents per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The citizens of Woodland who live within the Woodland Pool and Recreation District (the same boundaries as Woodland School District) will have an opportunity to vote on this bond that could provide recreation and fitness opportunities to the community.
Many residents say there is nothing for the kids to do in Woodland. Or, I hear them say they wish they could get fit. Wishing is not enough. If you want a YMCA in Woodland, you will have to vote yes in November.
Voting ends Nov. 7