The Costs of Building and Operating Public Pools

A number of communities around the Northwest are facing the decision to repair or replace aging public swimming pools. And the cost has risen significantly!

An outdoor pool built in 1948 for $40,000 would cost nearly $2 million today just to renovate and upgrade the existing structure. A basic indoor pool built in 1979 for $2 million would cost upward of $10 to $12 million now.

The public’s expectations of a public pool have changed, too. Public pools in some towns are becoming more than a place to learn to swim and cool off on a hot day. Pools are incorporated into year-round aquatic centers that provide a variety of physical fitness and recreation activities. Costs to build these facilities can range from $20 to $78 million.

And then there are the ongoing expenses of operations and repair. Personnel, heat, maintenance, materials and supplies for a year-round indoor pool facility cost at least half a million dollars annually.

The Shelk Foundation report, Rural Oregon Public Pools: A Comparison of Communities, Amenities, and Costs, comes to the conclusion that the most practical and likely funding mechanism for building and operating public swimming pools and recreation centers is a taxing district. Grants, donations and sponsorships comprise an important piece of the funding strategy, but are not enough.

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The report also highlights a number of small communities in rural Oregon that recently have built and are operating public pools.

The common factors are for their success? Developing a thoughtful and realistic financial plan to pay for construction and operations, building strong, broad-based community support and partnerships, and finally going to the voters with a reasonable bond request.

Our report was written to share information, facts and data that may help other communities plan the construction of a new pool. To order your free copy, email:


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


Prineville “Likes” Facebook

We Love Facebook

When Facebook announced its very first data center would be built in Prineville, most people hardly knew what Facebook was, much less what to do with it. What quickly became apparent, though, was from the very beginning Facebook was committed to playing a positive role in the community.

Prineville Data Center Community Action Grants

Facebook grants due

A local grants program is just one of the many ways Facebook and the people who work at the Prineville data center contribute to Prineville and Crook County. Since the community grant program began in 2011, Facebook has awarded more than $1.5 million to local schools and nonprofits.

2019 Grants Totaled $210,000

Eighteen programs and organizations received Facebook grants this year. Projects ranged from providing technology access to seniors in a local assisted living facility to purchasing rocket kits for the 4H STEM Club. Crook County Kids, an after-school program, received $6497.98 to purchase Sphero robotics kits to teach programming and coding skills. Kiwanis received $25,000 to help complete a community splash pad and Better Together received $10,000 to help establish a student internship program linking the business community with the schools.

Facebook 2019 recipients

Facebook Community Grant recipients

Crook County schools received a large share of the 2019 grants, much of it for technology and STEM and CTE programs. “We are so grateful for Facebook helping to support our schools through their Community Grants program,” said CCHS Assistant Principal Joel Hoff. “These grants have allowed our educators to provide innovative and enriching learning activities for our students. With their support, we are able to leverage our resources to maximize the learning experience for all CCSD students.”