For the fourth time in a decade, Portland Parks is trying to close Buckman Pool for good. The first time was in 2002, when budget cuts forced closure or reduced hours at many Parks facilities. Then Commissioner Jim Francesconi met with the Buckman neighborhood, and promised to reopen the pool if we passed the Parks Levy. The Parks Levy passed in 2003, and Buckman Pool reopened.
In 2005 Parks again tried to cut the budget for Buckman Pool, despite the fact that the Levy did not expire until 2008. Parks cited the fact that the pool was underutilized compared to other facilities. The real reason was that the pool is in a PPS building, and Parks could not control opening hours, utilities and management of the pool. The neighborhood and the parent population at Buckman Pool rallied and protested the closure. Council agreed in 2005 to keep the pool open. Shortly afterward, the pool was closed due to the inability of the pumps to keep the pool filled. A probable conclusion by PPS, which did the destructive investigation, was failure of the tiled pool surface due to deferred maintenance. Under further community pressure, Council agreed to fix the pool. The pool did not reopen until July of 2006. A new agreement between PPS and Parks was reached, giving Parks more control over maintenance of the pool itself.
The current Parks budget proposes closing Buckman Pool in all of its budget alternatives. The $79,720 in savings is 4.5% of the total budget cuts proposed in the least damaging of the budget alternatives. By contrast, only 1 management position is being cut at $100,000 savings.
The inner Southeast neighborhoods were promised a community center well before Southwest Community Center and East Portland Community Centers were built. Parks' analysis of facilities distribution throughout the city has consistently shown inner Southeast to be Parks-deficient. Land for a new community center was finally purchased at the former Washington High School in 2005. In 2009, using funds from a federal grant, preliminary design for the community center with a citizen's advisory committee began. The project is currently in for a conditional use master plan approval. Once the plan is approved, then Parks can start looking for funds for building design, permitting and construction. Part of the funding will no doubt require the passage of a Parks Levy. A complete and fully functioning community center at Washington High will not happen for 10 years with this economic climate. With the loss of Buckman pool, the inner Southeast will lose its only Parks facility providing programming for people of all ages and genders.
Ask City Council to keep Buckman Pool open until a new Southeast Community Center is fully functioning.
Keep Buckman Pool Open
Portland Parks and Recreation has long documented the lack of facilities in inner Southeast Portland. This area of the city has been promised a full-service community center since the 1980's. Despite this fact, both Southwest Community Center and East Portland Community Center were built first.
The Parks budget cuts are based on the premise of equity. Is it equitable or sustainable to close the only parks facility in this densely populated area of Portland? I understand that the city needs to make difficult decisions due to the budget shortfall. More equitable would be to cut hours/money at all facilities and programs so that the pain of the budget cuts is shouldered by the entire city.
With this economic climate, a new Southeast Community Center is at least a decade away. Keep Buckman Pool open until a new Southeast Community Center is up and running.