If summer can’t officially begin until that first pitch at a baseball game and that first cannonball into the public pool, it looked as if Missoula’s summer was going to be delayed a few weeks ago. But thanks to some MacGyver moves at the pools, it looks like the cannonballs will arrive on time—as will the pitch, albeit not at the new stadium.
Early this year, as the Missoula City Council was deciding to devote a second million dollars from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA) to a downtown baseball stadium, a small minority led by Councilman Jim McGrath wondered if the city was devoting too much money to a spectator sport while ignoring a participatory sport like swimming (see “McGrath pitches one low and outside,” by Jed Gottlieb, Feb. 6, 2003). With the two town pools badly in need of renovations, McGrath asked if Missoulians were being forced to choose between a new ballpark and the municipal pools.
But MRA Director Geoff Badenoch says it was never a choice between the park and the pools.
“The ballpark is its own deal because it was ready to go a while ago,” says Badenoch. “The pool work hasn’t been done. They haven’t figured out exactly what they’re going to do, how they’re going to pay for it, how it’s going to be run.”
When the city decided to go ahead with the extra million for the stadium, McGrath introduced a resolution to devote $1.5 million to fixing the McCormick Park pool. McGrath’s resolution has yet to be taken up, but for this summer the problem of the aging pools might be moot. City Parks and Recreation director Donna Gaukler told members of the Missoula City Council last week with a smile on her face that the pools are likely to open on the normal June 13 date.
“Today things look good,” said Gaukler, describing the pools’ “significant cracks” and the patch job. “We have applied more caulk than you can imagine. We’ve cleaned out Home Depot several times.”
One worry was that, in some sort of disaster movie scenario, the McCormick Park pool would split open and suck down some helpless child in water wings. That is no longer a worry, says Gaukler. With four Parks and Recreation employees working full-time on the problem for the last few weeks, the patch job is complete and safe, she says.
The new baseball stadium is another issue. Osprey general manager Matt Ellis says that he expects to host his first home game at Lindborg-Cregg Field, the ball club’s temporary home. Ellis says he’s excited about the construction on the new stadium, but adds that it isn’t even close to being open.
“We know it’s going to get done in the next three to four months,” he says. “We just don’t know at what point we can move into it.”