During the summer months, Selah’s community pool is a hive of activity. The pool is open 15 or 16 hours on a typical summer day, hosting swim lessons, lap swimming, swim team practices and recreational swimming for the community.

“I just feel like it’s important for everybody in our community to have a pool,” said Aimee Ozanich, the pool’s aquatic director. “I think pools are really important to the community.”

Originally christened the Selah Aquatic Center upon its 2019 completion, the relatively new facility was recently renamed as the Bruce Buchanan Memorial Aquatic Center in honor of the late Bruce Buchanan, who was a longtime supporter of the Selah Dolphins Swim Team. The renaming followed a $200,000 donation by Buchanan’s wife, Karron Buchanan, that will keep the pool financially afloat for the next two to three years.

While the pool is operating swimmingly this summer because of the donation, it is in danger of eventually closing its doors due to a lack of consistent financial backing.

Selah voters initially passed a bond to build the new facility in 2015. The city’s former pool had aged and was in need of replacement. After breaking ground in 2018, the current pool opened to the public in 2019.

The Selah Parks and Recreation Service Area board attempted to pass maintenance and operations levies for the pool in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. According to Ozanich, all failed by a slim margin. Unlike most community pools, the Bruce Buchanan Memorial Aquatic Center is not supported by taxpayer dollars.

“The long-term solution is either we continue to get major donors or we pass a levy,” said Ozanich, who is also the Buchanans’ daughter. “Or the pool closes.”

For many local youths, the pool offers a place to learn swimming skills, stay connected with peers and have fun.

“It’s a quintessential summer activity,” said Hannah Rees, a lifeguard and water safety instructor at the pool.

Rees, 16, has also been a member of the Selah Dolphins Swim Team since 2011. The AAU swim team, which includes kids from 5 to 18, has been a staple in Selah for over 50 years and uses the pool for practices and meets.

“It is a great way for, especially the younger kids, to add structure to their day,” Rees said. “That’s how I learned to swim.”

In addition to hosting the Dolphins’ practices and meets, Rees sees many other benefits that the pool has to offer.

“Learning to swim is one the best things you can do for yourself and for your safety,” she said. “It’s just a great service for our community: teaching people to swim and offering a public service where people can have fun.”

As far as the future, the SPRSA board has not yet set a date for its next attempt for a maintenance and operations levy. However, the hope among pool supporters is that Selah taxpayers will eventually vote in favor of the levy and that a consistent funding method will be secured.

“I know it’s an added cost, but it improves so many different aspects of the lives of our community,” Ozanich said. “I think it’s worth the dollars per year that we’re asking.”

Natalie Keller is an incoming senior at Selah High School.

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