Rural Oregon Public Pools

Public swimming pools are a vital community amenity. Kids (and adults) learn how to swim there, a life-saving skill in Oregon with our lakes and rivers and irrigation canals. A local swimming pool also serves as a community gathering space, creating memories of playing and splashing with friends and family at the pool on hot summer days.

But pools have a limited lifespan, and many pools that were built fifty or sixty years ago have reached that limit. Towns across Oregon are studying options: renovating, replacing, or reaching for the ultimate aquatic center. Eventually, planning committees all bump into the hard facts of finance. Not only funding the high costs of construction, but how to pay ongoing operating and maintenance expenses.

Some communities in rural Oregon have found answers and have been successful in building and operating their public pools. The Shelk Foundation commissioned a study to learn how they did it and released a 26-page report late this summer. Copies are available in Prineville at the Central Oregonian and Crook County Parks and Rec; or request a copy by emailing