The Chehalem Pool Committee launches awareness campaign in hopes of building support for potential CPRD bond measure

Jim Seymour keeps in his truck a hefty piece of cement that was dislodged from the diving platform at the Chehalem Aquatic Center by an errant water polo ball last year.

It’s a reminder of why he volunteered to serve on the Chehalem Pool Committee, which has launched an awareness campaign to inform the community about the current state of the 44-year-old pool and in turn build support for a potential bond measure that would allow the Chehalem Park and Recreation District to expand and renovate the GARY ALLEN - Keeping it running - Crews from the Chehalem Park and Recreation District and a private company undertook repairs on the Chehalem Aquatic Center this winter, but officials say the aging pool is past its prime and will need to be replaced soon.

“When we talk about it crumbling, it really is crumbling,” Seymour said. “When it does crumble, you can look inside and see the rebar rusting through. It sort of brings it to life for me.”

Seymour is one of a handful of community members serving on the committee, most of whom have stepped forward because their families have benefited greatly from what they consider to be a big asset for Newberg.

As the parent of former swimmers and water polo players, committee member Lisa Rogers knows firsthand how much people utilize the pool, but is also acutely aware that the facility is on its last legs having seen its inner workings while volunteering at meets and tournaments for years, not to mention the exposed and rusting steel rebar on the pool deck that any visitor can see.

The pool underwent some maintenance this winter, which it performs about every five years, but it was primarily cosmetic and did not address the major issues of energy inefficiency; high operating costs due to outdated equipment and the inability to find replacement parts or qualified technicians to perform maintenance, and deterioration of the main plumbing infrastructure.

The pool is nearing its life expectancy of 50 years, but from talking with pool staff, the committee learned that should a major problem with the plumbing or water control systems occur, it would likely result in a prolonged closure and a repair bill that would be a terrible investment compared to a major overhaul.

Committee members also point to the fact that the community has more than tripled in population since the pool was built in 1970 and cite a Portland State University study that projects Newberg will grow to 38,490 people by 2035, an increase of nearly 70 percent since 2011 estimates.

“It’s always packed, there are always people here,” Rogers said. “It’s a resource that’s really been well used, but it’s got a life span and if something doesn’t happen, it will probably go away. That would really be a shame.”

The committee formed as a result of parents like Seymour and Karen Saunders asking themselves and others why Newberg doesn’t have a pool like the ones they encounter traveling around the state and region to watch their children compete.

What the committee found after approaching CPRD — because the board had conducted a survey of residents about the work CPRD does, what needs there may be and what they would be willing to support through a bond measure — was that voters, in general, were happy with the job the recreation district was doing maintaining the assets it had.

When committee members reached out to community leaders, they learned more specifically that most didn’t know of the pool’s deterioration, but once informed they were on board with finding a long-term solution.

The CPRD board eventually gave permission to the committee to draw up a proposal for any proposed expansion and then develop and implement an awareness campaign.

The committee has until mid-May, when the board will survey again to gauge the public’s opinion about supporting a bond measure. If public support, measured by the survey, reaches 55 percent, the board will have adequate time to put forth a bond measure in the fall.

“This is a community asset that they have a stewardship responsibility for,” Seymour said. “While new things are great, taking care of this asset that has been in existence is a higher priority. This needs to be taken care of. None of us are opposed to the trails, but you’ve got an asset here that thousands of members of the community use every year and it’s falling apart.”

What the committee has proposed is an expansion and renovation of the current facility, retaining some structures, like the building that houses the pool, and expanding from 24,000 to 58,000 square feet, including a second floor.

The proposal, which is not final, calls for three pools — a zero entry pool that is more suited to seniors and conducive to therapy, a splash pool and a traditional pool. It would also include a fitness center that will feature an indoor gym and jogging track, an expanded weight room, a group fitness studio, and the addition of several family changing rooms, which proved popular at modern pools.

Carrying an approximately $20 million price tag, the cost to homeowners in the community would be six cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Committee members have been speaking to community groups, leaders and sharing information with the public at various CPRD and events.

A Facebook page (Save Chehalem Pool), twitter account (@ChehalemPool) and a website (, which includes testimonials from pool users and community leaders, has been established to spread the word.

Wth the help of , the group plans to do an extensive neighborhood canvas campaign hoping to reach 5,000 area households. Should CPRD put forth the bond measure, the group will also establish a political action committee and continue to campaign until the public heads to the polls in the fall.

“We focus on the cost of what it’s going to take to renovate or expand this, but what will it cost if we don’t?” committee member Mike Schrage said. “If you are a realtor, what does that do to the quality of life in the community? There’s a cost of not doing something as well.”

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