Oskaloosa pool may be closed this year
by Dennis Sharkey
It was an issue last year and will continue to be. Does the city council close the pool?
The city’s annual budget is about $75,000 for operating costs that includes the pool’s staffing, chemicals and water usage.
The pool is in dire need of repairs according to contractors who have looked at the pool. City Superintendent Bill Heard won’t go as far as some but will agree that the pool is badly in need of a new plaster surface.
Heard for the last decade has patched the pool back together each spring. But each year the condition worsens and the complaints from parents and patrons increase.
Councilman Jim Faris, point person for the pool, said he has heard the arguments and is ready to close the pool for a year to completely rehabilitate the pool.
“As much as I would love to have a pool be open I think we need to bite the bullet and take care of it,” he said.
The city received a bid late last year to rehab the pool for $78,000, or about $3,000 more than the operating budget.
However, Heard said there will be other costs associated with rehabbing the pool. He said the work would have to begin as soon as possible this spring and that the pool would have to be filled with water to cure the plaster. The additional costs are not yet known.
Mayor Mike Boyd cautioned Faris about making a quick decision about the pool. He said there are still questions that need answering.
“I would say keep your mind open on whether you open or you close it,” Boyd said. “Who’s to say we even have the money to do it?”
Heard said he can patch the pool back together and have it open this summer. But there are safety concerns with doing that. Each year City Clerk Patty Hamm fields phone calls complaining about the pool’s condition and cut feet on jagged concrete.
Councilman Allen Wise said with the news that the city’s liability insurance premiums are doubling they might want to take more precautions.
“It has to be safe,” Wise said. “That’s the number one goal and that’s our job.
“Have some problems at that pool and we’ll be self insured,” he added.
Wise also said the council has to face the reality that the budget may not stretch enough to fix the pool. He said it may take more than one year of saving to fix the pool.
Heard said he would return later this month to present numbers to the council. However, he said the decision needs to be made quickly.
“A lot of people plan on this being something to do for their kids,” he said.
The pool was built in 1980 and has never been re-plastered or had major renovations.
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