Jesse Gammon, 33, of Jacksonville, sits with his daughter Moira, 15 months, at Jackson pool in Medford Monday. The pool would be replaced by May 2014 if a bond is approved in November. - Jamie Lusch

Pool levy could make a splash

Medford residents may be warming up to a November bond levy of $14.5 million that would pay for a new pool at Hawthorne Park and one next to Jackson Elementary School.

"I've got mixed feelings," said Cindy Edens, a 49-year-old Medford mother. "But I would probably vote for it."

Some residents who use the pool said it's going to be difficult to ask voters to raise property taxes but that two new pools would benefit local children.

The levy is more palatable because the city abandoned a more expensive proposal to build an aquatics facility, they said.

"Most people thought the expensive aquatics park was a bad idea," said Jesse Gammon, a 33-year-old Jacksonville resident who uses Jackson pool with his 15-month-old daughter, Moira. "It's a lot, but I feel like it's worth it."

Residents might find the new proposal more appealing, thanks to lower interest rates.

Voters will be asked to approve a bond measure that would add $31.05 annually, or $2.59 a month, onto their property taxes for a house with an average assessed value of $207,000. An earlier proposal estimated the average property owner would pay more than $40 a month.

A park fee also would be tacked onto utility bills, adding 73 cents a month ($8.76 a year) to pay the costs of operating and maintaining the pools.

The cost to use the new pools will go up. Currently, adults pay $3 and children $1, but the city is looking at $4 to $5 for adults and $2 to $3 for children. Nonresidents would pay a surcharge of about 20 percent more.

Residents had until 5 p.m. Monday to seek judicial review in Jackson County Circuit Court if they opposed the proposed ballot title, which was published in the Mail Tribune.

As of Monday, city officials hadn't received any notification from the circuit court that a resident sought judicial review, though the court has until 5 p.m. today to notify the city if any came in at the last minute.

The City Council is expected to vote on a resolution Thursday, Aug. 16, that would put the levy on the November ballot.

Brian Sjothun, parks and recreation director, said plans to build a fabric-type structure over the 50-meter Hawthorne pool have been abandoned because the public didn't like the bubble-shaped roof.

Instead, the city will create a rigid roof support that will have retractable, translucent material, similar to a design in Roseville, Calif. The walls will also open. In the winter, a heating system will keep the interior warm so the Hawthorne pool can be used year-round.

The pool next to Jackson Elementary will be larger than the current one, which will mean more children can use it during busy summer months.

The Jackson pool will include a large semi-circular design with a play feature in the center, umbrellas and a larger seating area.

Both pools will have extensive play features such as water slides.

If voters approve the bonds, it would take up to 10 months to go through land-use hearings for both parks.

The Jackson pool would remain open during summer 2013, then construction would begin after the end of the season. The new pool could open by May 2014 if all goes according to schedule.

The Hawthorne pool would open by September 2014.

Sjothun said the construction schedule will depend on weather conditions.

Medford resident Joshua Stewart, a 30-year-old who brought his 2-year-old son to Jackson pool, said he realizes the pool is aging and worries that it will be shut down like Hawthorne pool.

"It would be a crying shame not to have a water facility in this community," he said.

Stewart said he would vote for the levy, but noted he doesn't pay property taxes.

He said the bathroom and shower area next to the pools is in such poor shape that he avoids using it at all.

"We take a shower before we come here," he said. "It's pretty bad in there. The paint and tiles are so dingy."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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