Yesterday morning I received a phone call from a reader with a tip: Until mid-May Readers Digest is running "We Hear You America," a contest which asks residents to voice the top needs in their communities.
For the communities with the most votes, Readers Digest steps in with over $7 million of funding to fix the problems identified by readers. (Don't hold your breath, Sonoma is in 939th place right now, but you can change that by voting here)
Most insightful: every single Sonoma entrant said that a public swimming pool is our communities biggest need.
"When the high school pool was removed a few years ago it was a great loss to the local children who used it and the local swim team, the Sea Dragons, who lost their venue," read one visitor's comment. "We are a small town that misses having the pool very much."
Another entrant chastises the city for not making a public pool a priority, writing "we have a wonderful community and it raises a lot of money for great causes, but the pool has gotten lost."
It's hard to argue that Sonoma children lack an opportunity to swim. There are numerous private pools in the area: for $30-80 per month families can swim at the Sonoma Aquatic Club, and a generation of kids have learned to swim through SwimAmerica program with Valley of the Moon Aquatics, which meets at the Hanna Boys Center pool, and regularly gives scholarships for kids who can't afford the program costs. When the weather gets nice, a trip to springs and pools at Morton's costs just $8, and you can lounge in one of the many local springs, creeks or streams for free.
But, there are no public pools in Sonoma, and with redevelopment funds likely going to the state, there's unlikely to be much money for a pool in the future. Many residents see this as a huge community lacking - "Sonoma Splash" a Facebook group advocating for a pool has over 600 members.
Is a pool really our biggest funding need? You tell us.
Readers Digest "We Hear You America," contest runs until mid-May. Registered users can "shout" up to ten times a day for their community; top winners will recieve a share of over 7 million dollars in community funding.