SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan Pool Bond Vote
By Doug Barry


June 22, 2009

Recent letters about K-town's bond proposal for a new pool caught my eye. Mr. Bylund's view seems extremely shortsided given the maritime location, industries and recreational activities that define the region. Dave Kiffer's letter has a more pragmatic angle and reminded me of my early years growing up in Ketchikan.

I remember taking swimming lessons at the silty, murky tidal pool that used to be at Rotary/Bugge Beach, usually on cold, drizzly "summer" days; back then there was no "real" swimming pool in the area except for the one at Bell Island Hot Springs.

Kiffer is right; young people and adults died by drowning in our local waters every year, including a few of our close family friends.

I was in high school during the late 60s and early 70s and remember travelling to Sitka for a regional basketball tournament in 1969. We were excited to experience Sitka's new indoor Olympic sized community pool smack dab in the dead of winter. We wondered why our smaller neighbor to the north had such a great facility and Ketchikan did not. We felt second-class.

As a result, I soon became an advocate for building a pool in Ketchikan and participated in the effort that started to grow to get a pool built. I had the chance to speak to Ketchikan Rotary my junior year to plea our group's point of view to local business leaders. I remember that the city's mayor back then was in the audience. He opposed the expenditure. Ironically, his business was located dockside, served boating clientele and at least one of his sons (a friend of mine) didn't know how to swim at the time. I brought that up at the luncheon and remember looking over at the Mayor; he nodded and winked in acknowledgement. I don't recall if he changed his position on the issue, though.

Finally, some momentum began to build and two pools eventually were built -- one at Kayhi and another at what used to be Bear Valley Elementary -- that nearly 30 years ago. From what I've read, sadly only one remains.

A community pool provides recreation and fitness opportunities, safety training, a competitive sport that builds community pride and individual self-esteem and something healthy and productive to do indoors on rainy days. If it happens to help save one life, it's well worth it. I'm sure the pool(s) built back in the 70s felt like a god-send at the time and many have benefited from its existence. It would be a crying shame if the city reverted back to the lame situation that existed 40 years ago, and it would be terribly irresponsible. I say "go for it"; otherwise, you might regret it.

Doug Barry
Ketchikan, AK

About: " Born & raised in Ketchikan, swimming lessons at Bugge Beach tide pool, advocate for community pool in late 60s."

Received June 22, 2008 - Published June 22, 2009


Related Viewpoints:


letterRe: Ketchikan Pool Bond Vote By Dave Kiffer

letterRe: Ketchikan Pool Bond Vote by Ken Bylund

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