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City could accept ownership of a second public swimming pool

By KEVIN GREEN - kgreen@thecouriertimes.com

The City of New Castle has the option of accepting ownership of a second public swimming pool.

Mayor Greg York recently informed members of the parks board the current owners of the swimming pool, located at the intersection of Spiceland Pike and Tara Lane in the southwest corner of the city, are willing to deed the facility over to the city.

The mayor told parks board members during the panel’s most recent meeting that he didn’t want to discuss or act on the request until he had time to further research the offer and they had time to give it more thought. It was tabled shortly thereafter.

York did point out that while the gift of an outdoor pool is an attractive idea, taking possession of it would also be an expensive venture.

“Taking over that pool would be a very expensive undertaking,” York said. “There’s maintenance and upkeep. You have to pay for all the chemicals and lifeguards. It’s never a profitable situation for a community. It sounds good because there’s potential income, but swimming pools for municipalities are always a burden and not a money maker.”

York said because there are so many pros and cons involved, he didn’t want the board to make a quick decision without having time to digest the implications; for that reason, he suggested tabling the offer for the time being.

The mayor also said it’s unclear what residents of the area in which the pool is located would like to see happen with the facility.

“I need to talk with them,” he said. “I don’t know if they want us to just take the pool over and continue to operate it, or if they want to do away with the pool and have us turn it into a park. I think there are some options there, but I haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet.”

The mayor said the pool has been operational in recent years, and has been a popular draw for area residents, but wasn’t sure if it was open for business last summer or not.

He did say it is in need of some maintenance if it is to remain open in the future, and that statement was corroborated by an audience member at the last parks board meeting who said it was her understanding the facility was in need of as much as $300,000 in maintenance and repair. She also indicated she lived in the neighborhood and served on the committee that made the decision to offer the pool to the city.

York said his next step is to meet with the neighborhood committee making the offer to clarify what they have in mind and report his findings to the parks board.

The parks board is expected to continue discussion on whether or not to accept ownership of the pool when it next meets at 5:30 p.m. March 5 in council chambers on the second floor of the city’s municipal building at 227 N. Main St., New Castle.

The parks board has the authority to make a recommendation to either accept ownership of the pool or decline the offer. According to the mayor, the final decision will be the city council’s to make.

“The parks board will come to a conclusion and then make a suggestion to either accept it or not,” York said. “If they vote to recommend we accept it, it would then go to the city council’s finance committee. We would then take it to the full council for a vote.”