Letter to the editor: Our community needs a place for children to get swim lessons

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I have been a member of a task force that has been working toward getting a pool and exercise facility in Battle Ground for 10 years. Back then, we had a spate of teen suicides and a group that met to study the situation who determined that our community needs a safe and healthy place for teens to go. I got involved because I was living in North Clark County and there wasn’t a viable destination for families to go to on rainy evenings.

My family joined Orchards YMCA for many years and enjoyed the classes and the facility. I witnessed childrens’ swim lessons, senior exercise classes in the pool, the high school swim teams practicing and participated in multigenerational yoga classes. But the drive into Orchards from Battle Ground takes much longer now and we no longer belong. 

The task force has met with Battle Ground city councilors, the Battle Ground School Board, Clark County councilors, state representatives, contractors, the Cowlitz Tribe, and many more stakeholders. Funds were raised in 2017 and a market study was completed that showed an overwhelming need in the community for an exercise and swimming pool facility. The growth in the past five years has added thousands of new residents with little infrastructure change. Looking forward to the next five years, we see continued growth with several hundred new homes.

Our community needs a place for children to get swim lessons, teens to meet and work out, families to go where programs meet the various needs, and a place for seniors to be active. The YMCA is a nonprofit organization that has over a hundred years of experience in running these facilities. The YMCA has purchased land where Rasmussen intersects with state Route 503. We expect support from the state in the coming years and have talked to contractors that would like to help get this facility built. The YMCA has asked the City of Battle Ground to mitigate the fees that would normally be charged with development of this kind, approximately $800,000, out of a total cost of $13 million for Phase I. The Reflector on Sept. 7 describes efforts to get Clark County to support the effort similarly. The results from the City of Battle Ground and Clark County don’t look promising. 



The YMCA has been asked by Camas and Ridgefield to work with them to get facilities built in their cities. As a comparison, we have Battle Ground city councilors that are thwarting the effort. If you think about the situation from the YMCA’s point of view, why would they continue to try to make this happen with councilors that balk at every step? It would be logical to conclude the YMCA will simply support the towns in Clark County that want to work with them. If this happens, Battle Ground will remain a place without a facility for swim lessons, families, and the seniors, and we will all suffer for it. 

Please reach out to Mayor Philip Johnson and councilor Shane Bowman at philip.johnson@cityofbg.org and shane.bowman@cityofbg.org as they are thwarting this effort at every turn.

Jodine Dixon, 

Battle Ground

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