Pool reopened Monday after 3-month closure
Wyatt Graham, 9, was looking forward to the re-opening of Kittitas Valley Memorial Pool so much on Monday he arrived 15 minutes early.
“Yeah, he’s been bugging me for the past week,” said Shawn Graham, Wyatt’s father. “I don’t know what was a bigger countdown, his birthday or the pool.”
The public pool closed unexpectedly April 27 when the brick facade of the east exterior wall fell down due to a lack of vapor barriers in the wall and moisture increased over time. It’s been closed since then — in prime summer swimming season — as the city of Ellensburg assessed the problem and made repairs.
Jodi Hoctor, aquatic and recreation supervisor for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said she received a lot of calls and visits Monday asking about when the pool would open.
She said the building is still undergoing construction but it’s fixed so that people can use the facilities like normal.
Parts of the building are closed off to the public. The front steps are gated off so people have to use the side sliding door and the outside deck is currently being used for construction materials.
Additionally, the area behind the diving board isn’t available to swimmers.
“We wanted to get you guys back into the building,” Hoctor said. “And that’s what we’ve done.”
On May 2 the Ellensburg City Council passed an emergency resolution to expedite repairs. On May 4, a structural engineer visited the site.
Lydig Construction was hired to do the short-term repair work. Lydig gave a rough estimate of $100,000, taking into account the building is 40 years old. After work progressed, the cost was revised to $165,000 due to the reclad of the metal sheathing on the east wall to provide added support, said Margaret Reich, communications and government relations officer for the city.
Additionally, the project was more labor intensive. She said the building needed steel studs, a vapor barrier, insulation and more metal to help reinforce the structure.
“In making these permanent repairs, the damaged portion of the building will meet current building codes,” Reich said in an email.
The building was set to open July 18, but it was pushed to Monday because of the scope of the repairs.
The city still is planning a longer-term repair effort.
Class is in session
The pool’s closure has affected lap swimming, youth swim lessons, the Ellensburg Area Swim Team, the Waterfit program and more.
Kim Grant, Waterfit swim teacher, said she’s beyond excited to get back into the pool. She has been teaching classes at the Quality Inn since the pool shut down.
Since the pool closed she had to come up with a new schedule because the Quality Inn is smaller than the Memorial Pool. At the city pool, Waterfit classes happen twice a day, four days a week with 20 to 30 people. At the Quality Inn, Grant had to split up the classes to about 10 people per class and held classes six times a day four days a week.
“It was a great challenge and the people at the Quality Inn could not have been more accommodating,” she said. “Nor could our people have been more patient. We’ve done it once before and it was a great experience.
“But it will be nice to be back to regular schedule,” she added with a laugh. “After six hours a day, two or three (hours) will be a piece of cake.”
Grant has been teaching water fitness classes for close to 25 years at the Memorial Pool and said the pool facility is one of the nicest she’s seen.
“It’s just a beautiful setting with all the windows and the space. I’m on the countdown,” Grant said. “We’re ready. I’m ready.”