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Oskaloosa City Council holds questionable closed session regarding pool repairs

by Dennis Sharkey

The Oskaloosa City Council held a closed door meeting with city staff last week despite objections from the Independent.

Mayor Mike Boyd asked for the closed session after a discussion with resident Lisa Cross.

Oskaloosa swimming poolCross approached the council with a petition of support for the city pool that contained 176 signatures and questioned the motivations of the council to get moving on the project.

She said the community is rampant with speculation and some residents don’t have any faith in the council to follow through.

“There’s so many rumors out there,” she said. “I think we need to communicate with the community more with what’s happening. There’s a lot of upset people and they want to know what’s happening.”

Mayor Mike Boyd said the council is working on the project and has had different people out over the past month to look at the pool and offer ideas and suggestions.

“We are moving forward,” Boyd said. “We don’t want to take one person’s opinion and run with it. It’s not dead in the water.”

Cross suggested a meeting with the Parks and Recreation Board but was cut off by Boyd and Councilman Jim Faris. The two said they were not ready to meet with anyone until they know what the project’s cost and scope will be. Faris said there has been talk from the Parks and Recreation Board about money but none has been offered.

Boyd said the city isn’t going to solicit for funds from the Parks and Recreation Board without knowing how much they need. He said he doesn’t want to ask for money the city may not use.

“If we cannot make it work with our money then we’ll solicit,” Boyd said. “Then we may ask for other donations. We may need more money, we may need less.”

Cross responded to both and said the board does have other priorities and would like some direction.

“That’s just it,” Cross said. “I think you need to sit down and talk about it. They’ve got this money sitting there that can be put to good use for other projects.”

Councilman Greg Rockhold questioned the thinking and said the city should welcome donations whether they need it or not.

“Why wouldn’t we take whatever the Parks and Rec Board will give us?” Rockhold questioned. “I say take anything we can get from anybody.”

Faris asked Cross if anyone who signed the petition would be willing to step up and donate money. Cross said the community is ready to help raise funds through donations and fundraisers.

“They’ll do what they have to because it’s a necessity,” Cross said. “I can guarantee you almost everybody on that list will do whatever they can.”

Faris said during television and radio appearances he made an appeal to the public for donations and nothing has happened.

“I don’t think you’re going to get anybody to step forward until they see progress made,” Cross said.

Talk about closing and repairing the pool has gone on since last winter. Cross said residents think the city is dragging their feet which is leading to speculation. She said some people don’t believe the pool will be fixed.

“Why did it take so long?” Cross asked in response to Boyd saying the city has met with people over the last month concerning the pool. “Things are just getting started now. Winter will be here before you know it.”

Cross said the community is seeking some sort of guarantee that the pool project will move forward. Councilman John Norman did not do anything to ease the concern.

“There’s no way we can give a guarantee until we know what our funding is going to be,” Norman said. “There is no guarantee.”

Norman also addressed rumors and speculation in the community concerning the pool.

“We can’t squelch rumors and not everybody reads the paper,” Norman said.

Faris said not all of the things discussed with the pool have been printed in the Independent.

“There has only been so much that has been printed in the paper about the discussions,” Faris said.

Cross said people should read the paper but also somewhat agreed with Faris.

“There’s a lot of times that things get talked about at the council meeting that are important that don’t get put into the paper,” Cross said. “If you can’t communicate with the community, they’re not going to back you.

“If you want to know what’s going on and you want to know the truth go to a city council meeting,” Cross added.

After the discussion with Cross Boyd moved to go into closed session to further discuss issues with the pool. Boyd asked City Superintendent Bill Heard how much time he would need.

This reporter objected to the meeting and asked for what grounds the council was going behind closed doors.

“Because we have some concerns we want to take care of,” Boyd said. He also cited attorney-client privilege.

This reporter again objected to the closed meeting but was shown the door by Boyd.

“It’s a legal issue so there you go,” Boyd snapped.

“To discuss some things we need to discuss. Thirty minutes,” he added in a sarcastic tone while pointing his finger at the door. “See you in 30.”

Boyd announced that no binding action took place during the meeting.

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Posted by on Jul 15 2011. Filed under Featured, Government, Municipalities, Oskaloosa. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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