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2017-2018 could be last swim season for local high schools at BMCC pool

Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on October 9, 2017 8:59PM


The Pendleton High School swim team will continue to use the Blue Mountain Community College pool, but the team’s longterm facility outlook remains murky.

The Pendleton School Board approved an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding with BMCC to use the pool for the 2017-2018 swim season. The district will pay the college a $1,827 flat rate to use the indoor pool for 7.5 hours per week from November to February.

But unless the BMCC Board of Education takes action, this will be the last time the pool will be made available to the high school.

Beset with problems to its ventilation, pumps, concrete and sheet rock, BMCC temporarily drained the pool and closed it down last school.

After meeting with the three main entities that use it — Pendleton High School, Hermiston High School and the Pendleton Swim Association — the college agreed to make some of the needed repairs and reopen the pool.

But the move was only meant to provide temporary relief to the organizations that use it while a more permanent solution was found. Casey White-Zollman, BMCC’s vice president of communications, said the college’s programming doesn’t have any need for the pool and it’s still set to close on June 30, 2018.

In what may be the last year of this collaboration, BMCC gave Pendleton High School a discount, charging them a lesser rate than the $5,850 a nonprofit or community organization would have been charged to use the pool for the same amount of time.

The board unanimously approved the agreement with little discussion.

For their part, neither high school wants 2017-2018 to be the last swim season at the McCrae Activity Center

PHS Athletic Director Troy Jerome said he hoped BMCC would continue to approach renting out the pool on a year-by-year basis.

Aware that a new major maintenance issue to the pool could put it out of commission permanently, Jerome said options like the pool at the Roundup Athletic Club, which is considered too small, or the Pendleton Aquatic Center pool, which would require some sort of cover to allow swimmers to use it during the fall and winter. But using the BMCC pool remains the swim team’s top priority.

Hermiston’s options are also limited.

Hermiston High School Athletic Director Larry Usher said the swim team has no Plan B if the college pool is closed after the season ends.

“Their indoor pool is way nicer than our indoor pool,” he said. “Because we don’t even have one.”

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.



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