Laughter and joy return to the North Bend Pool

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July 6 – After 15 months of silence, the screams of joy returned to the North Bend municipal swimming pool on Thursday after the pool finally reopened.

North Bend held a reopening ceremony and the North Bend Fire Department distributed free fire dogs, chips and drinks to the community.

But those who gathered an hour before the pool opened, only came for one reason to get back in the water.

Like many companies in the community, the North Bend Pool closed its doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What was meant to be a brief shutdown spanning 15 months, with many speculating that the pool would never reopen due to budget constraints.

But in May, North Bend voters agreed to a tax levy to fund pool operations for five years, and weeks after the vote, North Bend received a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to fund operations for three months.

With these two sources of funding, the city has spent the last month working overtime preparing the pool for a swim. And on Thursday that work paid off when dozens of parishioners walked into the water.

“We are very excited that you are here today to share this moment for the reopening of the North Bend Pool,” Mayor Jessica Engelke told the crowd waiting for the swim. “I think we can all say it’s been a very long year.”

Engelke said when the city council debated the future of the bathroom, they were determined to do what people wanted.

“We listened to the citizens and we heard you,” she said. “That was a priority for you.”

Engelke said when citizens announced the pool was a priority, the city council put it at the top of their list.

One person in charge of the grand opening is State Rep. Boomer Wright. During his tenure on the Legislature that year, Wright heard about the Oregon Community Foundation grant and immediately called North Bend. With this information, North Bend was able to prepare its grant application, which resulted in the pool being open for free all summer.

Wright said it was a great honor and a small victory to be at the grand opening that made his service in the legislature worthwhile.

“It’s an honor to stand before you and represent you in District 9 and finally reopen the pool,” Wright said.

Alderman Eric Gleason said the pool opening was a big deal for North Bend.

“Today is an exciting day for North Bend,” said Gleason. “It’s a day that comes not because we spent time arguing, but because we came together as a community to make sure this local resource is available to so many.”

Gleason said the pool will not only provide the community with entertainment and exercise, it will ultimately save lives.

“I learned to swim in this building, and it’s the same place my kids learned to swim,” he said. “Today we can see its waters with joy and laughter as we offer this opportunity to the youth of our community.”

City Recorder KayLee Marone, who also doubles as the pool manager, said opening the pool was a huge relief.

“This has been a long, hard road since we closed in March 2020,” said Marone.

She stated that the pool will be open for free in July, August and September and then close in October until the rest of the year. During those three months, the city will repair and replace three obsolete equipment needed to run the pool – the pool pump, filtration system and boiler.

“We are very much looking forward to this summer and look forward to our next opening in January 2022,” said Marone.

After the speeches finished, the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce joined the city guides for a ribbon sever, and then the wait was over when the pool officially opened its doors. A swimming schedule and other information can be found on the North Bend Municipal Baths Facebook page.

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