Astoria rendering

Astoria Hot Springs used to be the locals’ place. This favorite swimming hole will be a community gathering space when we all chip in.

The hot springs were shuttered two decades ago after serving the swimming and soaking public since 1961. Although the buildings were torn down, the real attraction — naturally hot water in a scenic outdoor setting — remains.

What also remains is the desire for affordable, accessible recreation for all.

The new Astoria Hot Springs Park is about $1 million shy of its goal before construction crews can break ground, ideally by this spring. More than 500 donors have already raised the bulk of the $6 million required to build the park.

To stay on schedule the park’s boosters say they need to round up the rest of the funding by the end of this year. This is, after all, the giving season.

The Snake River Sporting Club and neighboring homeowners are hoping to get others in the spirit by pledging to match up to $500,000 in new gifts — with a 1-to-1 match — if donations are received by Dec. 15.

That is Jackson Hole philanthropy at its best.

The Trust for Public Land acquired Astoria in 2016 — after a series of bankruptcies and failed development plans — with the mission of reopening the springs to the public.

The trust has taken input from some 2,000 residents. The design calls for hot soaking pools, a leisure pool, a kids pool, lawns, picnic space and hammock setups. Plans also include an adjacent 98-acre park with walking trails, multiuse pathways, playground areas and event spaces. Although visitors will have to pay what planners promise will be an affordable fee to use the pools, the surrounding park space will be free for a ramble.

This is a rare opportunity to restore Jackson Hole’s character at a place where Robert Porter first started inviting families to come enjoy the outdoors and kids to come learn to swim.

Let’s rally around this campaign and reinvigorate a great family setting where we can all seek common water among our differences. Visit Support.TPL.org/astoria.

The editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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