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Photo courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR: A structural engineering firm conducts an inspection of Columbia Pool in November 2021. Portland Parks & Recreation has facilitated thorough inspections of the nearly 100-year-old structure since 2008. The aging building has been determined to be unsafe.
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 16 December 2022

After years of deliberation and inspections, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) has recommended Columbia Pool be permanently closed due to life-safety hazards and diminishing structural integrity. Continuing thorough inspections first initiated in 2008, an independent structural engineering firm found life-safety hazards in the aging building in 2021 and determined it was unsafe for use. As with other Portland Parks & Recreation public facilities, Columbia Pool had been closed for most of 2020 due to COVID-19; it has not since reopened.

Acknowledging the difficulty of the decision, Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio agreed public safety should be prioritized and accepted PP&R’s recommendation.

“Columbia Pool was beloved by generations of swimmers and families,” notes Commissioner Rubio.

“We can’t simply shut it down after 93 years and not put something in its place.

carmen rubio introPortland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio"I’ve directed Portland Parks & Recreation to plan a new, full-service aquatics center for North Portland, and I will continue to explore funding options for it in addition to the more than $31 million in City and State funds already secured.”

The structural failure of a beloved recreational asset is not an isolated issue. PP&R has identified $500 million worth of necessary but unfunded park and recreation infrastructure repairs, something the Bureau is attempting to address through the Sustainable Future Initiative.

“It’s a gut-wrenching loss,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. “There’s no way around that. But I think something really beautiful can come from this. A new, full-service aquatic center will represent the largest investment PP&R has ever made in North Portland.”

Additionally, City Council approved a $1.5 million fund to ensure those impacted by this closure can access other PP&R pools. Commissioner Rubio and Director Long will work with community members to utilize that money effectively and equitably. 

Read also: North Portland Welcomes State Funding for New Aquatic Center, Questions Whether Columbia Pool is a Lost Cause


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