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Ottawa Hills High School parents push for district to fix pool

Ottawa Hills High School
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 09, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Benjamin Scheid knows the Ottawa Hills High School pool well. He swam there decades ago, and now he announces at his own daughter’s swim meets.

“I'll announce the swim meets as long as they'll have me,” Scheid said.

But that won’t be happening at Ottawa Hills any time soon.

“There's a pool at Ottawa that doesn't hold water and the pool at City High is iffy," Scheid said. “And there's a pool at Union.”

Ottawa Hills’ pool hasn’t been operational all year, and last week, City High’s pool was temporarily closed.

That meant all pool operations, including swim meets, practices, lessons- you name it- had to be run out of Union’s pool.

And at this point, there’s no set timeline on when Ottawa Hills’ pool will be repaired.

"Unfortunately, through the research we've done, it's not a quick fix,” said Leon Hendrix, Grand Rapids Public Schools Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs. “It's going to cost well over a half million dollars to fix this problem.”

Parents like Benjamin Scheid and Chris DeBlaay are now pushing the district to act fast, saying the impact these pools have on their neighborhood reaches beyond district sports.

Swim clubs, which serve hundreds of kids every year, use that pool.

“When the pool is not available, all those things get disrupted, that ability to impact and be a community partner really becomes jeopardized," Ottawa Hills High School Parent Chris DeBlaay said.

The district says the issue at hand isn’t urgency, it’s the scope of the project. With possible costs reaching in the eight hundred-thousand-dollar range, the board says it doesn’t want to rush the project.

“First, we've got to identify a funding source, then we've got to identify a contractor, and then we've got to start the process of doing the work, which is going to take several weeks as well,” Hendrix said. “So, we're just at the beginning stages of that, and really starting to get a handle on what the problem is.”

It’s time and money these parents say is worthwhile for the district.

“To invest in this pool, to ensure that it's functioning well, not just now but long into the future, gives the district a chance to live its values out,” DeBlaay said.

Parents and community members took their concerns to the Grand Rapids Public School Board Monday evening, discussing the urgency for a fix. While no official action was taken, district officials say it was a good opportunity for feedback. They also tell FOX 17 the effort to get the pool back online is already in motion.