North Bend got some good news Friday, and the news will open the city pool for free beginning July 1.
City Administrator David Milliron said the city was notified Friday it has been approved for a $187,000 Oregon Community Foundation K-12 Summer Learning grant to be used to operate the North Ben Municipal Pool.
“We will be able to cover all our start-up costs and cover operation of the pool, covering completely for July, August and September,” Milliron said.
What that mean for local residents is there will be no cost to use the pool, including no cost for swim lessons.
North Bend received the grant notification just hours after the pool was filled with water for the first time in more than a year. The North Bend Fire Department began filling the pool early Thursday, and city staff stayed at the pool until it was completely filled at 4:40 a.m. Friday.
City Recorder KayLee Marone, who will also run the pool when it reopens, said the pool holds 255,000 gallons of water. Using that much water required the city to work closely with the Coos Bay-North Bend Water Board to ensure enough water was available Thursday.
Marone, who stayed most of the night at the pool as it was filled, headed to Washington state Friday to be recertified as a Star Guard lifeguard instructor. Marone will now be able to train the lifeguards coming to work at the pool.
“Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to pull this off,” Milliron said.
With the pool full of water, Marone said the city would filter the water over the weekend before beginning treatment with chemicals next week. Marone said she hopes to have the pool ready to be used for lifeguard training by June 18.
Keeping everything moving forward is important for the city to reach its goal of reopening July 1. Milliron said it has not been easy, but he praised the city employees from different departments who have helped with painting, general maintenance, cleaning and more.
“Everything you see is frozen in time from March of 2020,” Milliron said.
While the city had promised to open the pool July 1, Milliron said no one is certain what that will fully mean. He said how many people can swim will all be determined by COVID restrictions in place July 1.
“We don’t have a crystal ball to tell what the restrictions are July 1,” he said. “But I will tell you, whatever the restrictions are, we will be in compliance.”
And getting there will fall largely on Marone. When the pool opens, she will be in charge while continuing to do her job as recorder and HR director.
“For us to pull this off, KayLee has literally been going through her Rolodex,” Milliron said. “We the city could not pull it off without her. She’s been doing double duty.”
That double duty will only continue through the end of 2021 as North Bend will begin searching for an aquatics administrator to take over in 2022.
When the pool opens, it will remain open through September, before closing again for three months. During that closure, the city will complete much-needed upgrades and maintenance. When it reopens in January 2021, it should be ready to go for the foreseeable future.
“I can’t wait,” Marone said Friday. “This is a huge opportunity for the community.”