Loogootee residents will not have a city pool to enjoy this year, but city officials hope they will be able to build a new one.
At a special meeting of the Loogootee City Council Tuesday night, it was agreed to move $8,000 from the Park and Recreation Department budget from pool worker salaries to seasonal worker salaries. This will pay for a man hired to mow city park properties throughout the year.
The special meeting was originally called to approve hiring five part-time employees for the park department to plant flowers and do other beautification efforts. They would have been paid out of the $14,000 remaining in the park budget.
However, led by Councilman Fred Dupps, the council questioned why that remaining money should be spent at a time when the city is now considering how to raise funds for a new pool.
Clerk-Treasurer Nancy Jones said the council could transfer the remaining funds into the city’s Rainy Day Fund, which could ultimately be spent for any purpose, or establish a new non-reverting pool fund. She cautioned that any money put into a pool fund could only be used for that purpose, even if the city eventually decided not to build a new pool.
Dupps clearly favored the pool fund option over using the rainy day fund, because he wants the money reserved for the pool. Speaking of the rainy day fund, he said, “We don’t really want to use it unless someone puts a gun to our head.”
Jones said the council doesn’t have to decide what to do with the park board funds until the end of the year. No additional funds beyond the $8,000 can be spent without council approval.
The Park and Recreation Board voted April 18 to not open the city pool this year.
Mayor Noel Harty said “more things were wrong with the pool than right,” with the biggest expense being the loss of 15,000 gallons per day due to a major leak in the pool lining. He also said the pool was not up to government code standards.
None of the park board members — president Ann Ackerman and members Sue Carrico, Sammie Nelson, Mark Ellis and Jamie Frye — attended the council meeting. Neither did Councilman John Fraley, who was at work. Reached at home Tuesday evening, Carrico confirmed Harty’s statement that the park board was unanimous in wanting to build a new pool. A long-time member of the park board, she raised money 10 years ago for the city’s skateboard park.
Carrico wouldn’t give specifics about what the board plans to do next or how long it might take to build a new pool.
At the April 15 city council meeting, Harty said the city wants to apply next year for a $10 million grant as part of the state’s Stellar Community Program. The state traditionally awards two grants per year. If that grant were awarded to Loogootee, it would more than cover the cost of a new pool.