Before our city government spends a lot of money on a project, it should always ask two questions:
Is there sufficient community support?
Can outside sources of assistance be tapped?
In the case of the proposed renovation of Fred Endert Municipal Pool, the answers to both those questions are "yes."
A group of local citizens, the Promote Our Pool Foundation, has raised nearly $40,000 for the project. Supporters correctly point out that the pool can be a life-saver. It's where many of our children learn to swim before venturing into this region's alluring but dangerous natural waterways.
It's also a great place for kids of all ages to take a dip on those frequent occasions when water is falling from the sky.
The pool was built 42 years ago, so it's not surprising that major repairs are finally needed. The boiler used to heat the facility and air-circulation devices are inefficient and cost the city thousands of dollars in excess power usage every year. Patch jobs have been done on the pool's slowly deteriorating bottom. And a maze of narrow entrances to the locker rooms does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
One option is to replace only the boiler and air circulators and do some basic cosmetic work to the building. This would keep the facility going in the short term, but the pool itself would continue to deteriorate.
If we want a municipal pool facility for the long haul, we need to consider a complete renovation. That's where the issue of outside assistance comes into play. In 2006, the state Department of Parks and Recreation approved a $300,000 grant for renovation of the Crescent City pool.
The money is contingent on the city fully renovating the pool by next year. It likely can't be used for limited repairs.
Community support? Check. Outside assistance? Check. So it's no wonder the City Council voted unanimously Monday to put the project out for bid.
The Council will face a tough decision when those bids come in next month. A preliminary estimate puts the cost of full renovation at $1.5 million. That's a big buy for a cash-strapped town.
Considering the clear-cut community support and the availability of outside assistance if they act fast, Council members should make every effort to find the money for full renovation if they receive a reasonable bid.
¬óThe Daily Triplicate