Growing up in northern Idaho, I remember when my parents found out we were getting a city pool. They were mad about it. They were sure their taxes were going to go up to fund it, that it would lose money, that it was going to be a terrible blight on our community. We didn’t have Facebook back then, but if we had, they would have been commenting with the same reactionary “Who will pay for this!?!?” sentiments that flood the internet every time anyone mentions Teton Valley getting a public pool.
We had all the same excuses: private pools were available, our summers weren’t very long, an outdoor pool would lay dormant for more than half the year, why should we pay more taxes when we were surrounded by natural lakes and creeks? Then some folks donated money for land, we had a bond election, and we got a pool anyway, along with a rec center and some water slides. My parents grumbled about increased taxes, mocked its progress as it was built, and generally huffed about the new pool. Just like plenty of you will do when we finally break ground here.
Then it got hot, and they bought a family pool pass. Every summer through elementary, middle, and high school I had a pool pass. I’d ride my bike to the basketball courts, meet up with friends, and then ride to the pool. When I was too young for a summer job I spent most days in that pool. Once I was working construction I’d head down to cool off after work. When I look back at my youth, much of what stands out happened at that pool—heckling the lifeguards, making new friends, competing to hold my breath in the deep end. My parents stopped huffing about the new taxes in less than a year. And I can’t imagine my childhood without that pool and rec center.
I don’t have kids. I’m not planning on ever having them. My prime pool lounging years are long past, and I don’t plan on swimming in a Driggs pool that much. But I absolutely know that a public pool would be a positive move for our community to make. As a lifelong Idahoan, I am as wary of government overreach and spending as anyone. But a Teton Valley pool is one very clear and simple way that our taxes could do just that, improve our quality of life. So stop complaining on the internet. The valley will thank you later.