No New Pool – Yet! No Public funds before Financial Sustainability Plan and Inclusion is a Must

I am an avid believer in our waterways, the recreation they provide, and that water safety is essential. I also support a variety of physical exercise and the benefits, but I also believe, more importantly, that everyone is entitled to reap these and all the benefits of publicly funded programs and facilities — to be included with fair treatment.
There is a culture of exclusivity that must be discussed regarding the North County Recreation District (NCRD) before more money is requested of the public. Honesty and transparency are paramount. A quiet $4.3M campaign is telling of the NCRD culture and to be questioned.

We must have a Financial Sustainability Plan for a post-new pool era. Finances will not be the same as what they are now – the public deserves to see a 20-year financial new-pool plan, especially in this time of COVID which is not going away soon. The size of the new pool proposed is essentially the size of Seaside’s large pool. I have witnessed the intense labor needs and viewed their budget. It is not the same as NCRD’s pool budget. There will be two buildings to staff, which alone will increase labor costs. I invite the public to do their own research of the last 20 years, ‘community pools are money pits’. They are expensive, please don’t fool yourselves. We need a future plan.

This $4.3 Millon bond is not all… the NCRD will be borrowing an additional $3M on top of the bond and has only saved $2M toward the new pool in over 6 years.

But here’s where I need to express my concerns for the people living within the District and the continued neglect of improving the NCRD culture toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Several years ago, our family was discriminated against by NCRD due to our son’s Down syndrome. We tried to excuse the act by calling it ignorance and pleaded for policy change and education, to no avail. Instead, leadership pretended it did not happen, took no accountability, and brushed it under a rug, waiting for us to go away. A donation was made to NCRD for staff DEI training but was never used or pursued.

After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, the brand-new theater has been advertised with public funds as ‘newly renovated’…but quietly no one has addressed the fact the stage remains inaccessible to someone who uses a wheelchair. Access to the stage for wheelchair users has been requested but again, leadership falls silent and hopes this will go away. This affects people we know and love, but the fear of losing seats (money) over inclusion prevails at NCRD.

These are unfortunately only a few examples (there are more) of the NCRD culture that needs immediate and deep attention. We have heard from many people and families regarding their experiences and the lack of DEI at NCRD and it is remarkable. I am open to talk with any one. I am not for the pool funding, at this time, until we get our NCRD house in order and begin to take care of all of the people within the District. As a community we have the responsibility to be accountable to everyone that pays the taxes, and to build a recreation district that does not discriminate or exclude anyone. It is time for change, not a new pool, yet.

Julie Chick
Nehalem