Sandy leaders make controversial decision to close Aquatic Center

Kids get swimming lessons Monday afternoon at Olin Bignall Aquatic Center. The Sandy City Council voted to close it. (KATU Photo)

Three hours into Monday's City Council meeting, Sandy leaders voted to close the town's Aquatic Center on May 31.

The controversial proposal brought many people to the meeting. The room reached capacity and members of the high school swim team and their parents watched the meeting stretch for hours in the City Hall lobby.

"I don’t think any of you ran on the platform of closing the pool," one resident said during public comment.

The city purchased the Olin Bignall Aquatic Center in 2016 from the Oregon Trails School District for $3 million. Members of the school's swim teams were allowed to use the facility without paying a fee.

The district is considering other alternatives. Parents said they can't drive their kids to Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham for swim practice.

"Now, instead of having just under an hour each way to get to practice, we would now have an hour each way to get to practice," said Gretchen McAbery whose children play water sports.

Mayor Stan Puliam said it was expensive to operate the pool. Puliam told KATU News he was concerned about the city's budget.

"When we're looking at the prioritization of our dollars a lot of people are concerned about government spending and where that money goes. Should they go towards Aquatic Centers and swimming pools?" Puliam said.

Puliam said he is concerned about public safety and said the police department is in need of more officers.

"We're really looking at having to prioritize our dollars," he said.

The future of the Aquatic Center is unclear. Members of the City Council discussed bringing the issue to voters on the 2020 ballot.

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