Northwest NEWS

March 1, 1999


An open letter to the members of the Valley Recreation Association

   I've been wanting to write this letter for a long time now, and I decided it was high time I got busy and said what was on my mind. I get the impression that your organization is feeling a bit frustrated with having to compete with so many other organizations that are also asking the community for a share of their support through funding and/or volunteerism. I hope that my letter helps you to see things from a different perspective.

   Shortly after I moved to Carnation and started my own business here, I learned of the Eastman-Rush Foundation. I was told it was formed over 25 years ago in memory of two young boys who had drowned in the river.

   It was the dream of the surviving family members, as well as other members in the community, that an indoor public swimming pool be built in their memory so that others could enjoy a good swim in safety. In fact, I personally knew of quite a number of people who were in complete support of that pool. It was off to a good start with the sale of tiles. Supporters could buy a tile with their names engraved on them to show their support. Many fund raising events followed.

   And yet, 25 years have come and gone, and that pool is still just a dream in a few people's hearts. Many of the old supporters have given up on the elusive dream. They had long been hoping for this pool for their children to swim in, but alas, those children are all grown up now with families of their own. Many have moved away without ever getting to see the tiles with their parents' names on them.

   So what happened? I can tell you what I think happened. The originators of this dream set their sights way too high.

   I saw their original plans. They weren't just trying to build a community pool. They were trying to build a mammoth-sized recreation center complete with everything! Maybe that kind of facility would fit nicely in Bellevue or Kirkland, maybe even Redmond or Issaquah. But not in a small rural community like Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, and the like.

   It was going to have a kitchen, and a gymnasium for basketball games and aerobics classes. It was also going to have a martial arts studio and a weight room and lots of little meeting rooms.

   Now, I see two things wrong with this plan. First of all, what they wanted to build was going to cost money, a lot of it, more than what a few tiles, bake sales, beer gardens and dunk tanks could raise. The dream center wouldn't fit into our small town, rural atmosphere, and the cost in upkeep and maintenance would be high.

   The other thing I saw wrong with the plan was that they were going to offer things that we already have here in our town. The Senior Center and Multi-Service Center already have kitchens available for public use. We already have gymnasiums for basketball games, and Lord knows we have plenty of aerobics and group exercise classes happening in town already.

   A martial arts studio? We have our own Tae Kwon Do studio right here in town. And the weight room? Well, the last time I checked, we already have one of those. Meeting rooms? Got 'em.

   What we don't have is a pool.

   Now, I've been told that the Eastman-Rush Foundation voted to change their name to the Valley Recreation Association because they feared that much of the dwindling support was due to community fears that the facility would be family-owned or that the families would somehow reap benefits from such a facility. But I don't agree with that. I think the pool is a good idea, but the approach was all wrong. The community wanted to see a pool and, after 25-plus years, they just got tired of waiting.

   I say, "Give the community a pool!" Forget all the fancy extras and focus all of your energy on just what is necessary to build a quality community indoor swimming pool. Focus on the important things like bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, lockers, and offices for the staff.

   Frills and extras? Who needs them? What we need is a pool, and I am convinced that if the financial goals weren't so high and were more approachable, you would start seeing the hope and desire in many of these people return and, most importantly, their community support, both financially and in volunteerism.

   Rethink your strategy and I, for one, will do everything I can to help see this dream become a reality, and, please, consider changing the name back to Eastman-Rush Foundation.

   After all, weren't the deaths of those two boys what got this whole dream started in the first place?

Paulette Quiroga-Jacklin, Carnation