Donor helps keep Hilo pool open


A local resident who’s “passionate about keeping the pool open” has donated $30,000 to the Hilo YWCA to help keep the solar-heated saltwater swimming pool open through 2013, said Lorraine Davis, the YWCA’s interim CEO.

There’s just one catch. The donation came with a challenge to the YWCA to raise $30,000 on its own to match the anonymous donation. A couple of fundraisers have been held since the effort began in earnest in mid-October, and the YWCA is already halfway toward meeting its part of the fundraising bargain. A letter campaign to the isle medical community was also effective, but there’s still $15,000 to go before the end of 2012, the donor’s deadline.

The YWCA has now launched its “Holiday Challenge” fundraising campaign to reach the YWCA’s goal.

Without needed repairs and improvements, closing the 32-year-old pool would be “pretty imminent,” Davis said. “We’ve been running a deficit for several years.”

The electric-powered pumps that circulate the water are consuming enormous amounts of electricity and need to be replaced with a photovoltaic system to reduce costs, she said. The pool also has a leak and other problems that need to be fixed.

Funding alternatives are to raise the fees for pool users, and “we could always use more swimmers,” said Davis, but at the going rate, the pool will have to close next year without an infusion of cash for the renovations.

Up to 200 people a day use the pool on a regular basis for aerobics and lap swimming six days a week. Local schools also use the 155,000-gallon pool, located on Ululani Street.

Donations may be sent to the YWCA at 145 Ululani St., Hilo 96720, or may be made online at ywcahawaiiisland.org.