The neighborhood activists fighting to save the Buckman Pool are on their last lap.
Last week, Mayor Charlie Hales cut the tiny basement swimming pool in Southeast Portland—and its $10-per-swimmer city operating cost—from his first proposed budget. But the pool's political party isn't quitting.
The "Buckman Pool Heroes," like the defenders of the Mounted Patrol, are waging one final campaign. And they've found a funding source: leftover money from the 2003 parks levy.
Hales' proposed budget calls for taking $800,000 left over from that levy and using it for capital investments on parks. Neighborhood organizer Christine Yun has suggested to City Hall that the money instead be invested in a fund to operate Buckman Pool until the Washington High Community Center is built.
"There is money," Yun writes, "you just have to find it."
The Buckman Pool activists appear to have a backer: City Commissioner Amanda Fritz wrote to the group last week saying she would support prioritizing the pool over Sunday Parkways.
"I will keep trying to find two more votes to keep Buckman open until the Washington School community center is completed," Fritz wrote.
Correction to original post, 11:15 am: Due to a reporter's error, the original post described a strategy to target City Commissioner Nick Fish, who until recently oversaw Portland Parks & Recreation. That strategy, while still listed on the Buckman Community Association website, was from last year's budget negotiations.
The 2012 strategy, according to a public email sent out by neighborhood organizer Christine Yun, was to lavish Fish with praise for the aid he might provide.
"At this point we don’t want to be our own worst enemies," Yun wrote. "We want to praise Commissioner Fish for making difficult decisions. We want to encourage him to keep Buckman Pool open as a symbol of a promise to follow through on construction of the wonderful inner Southeast Community Center that could be built under his watch. We want to be confident that he will able to find efficiencies or alternates within the proposed budget to save Buckman Pool."
The plan worked: Buckman Pool, a perpetual target of cuts, made it into Mayor Sam Adams' final budget.