By DAVID GREEN
More than 40 people attended a public meeting last week to discuss the fate of Fayette’s community swimming pool. The park board will continue the conversation at its meeting tonight (Wednesday).
“It was a great turnout,” village administrator Amy Metz told village council members Thursday night, “and a nice platform for people to express opinions.”
She characterized those in attendance as split down the middle in support for repairing/rebuilding vs. those who think it should be closed and resources devoted to other park projects.
At the meeting, Metz gave a brief history of the pool, noting that the initial effort started in 1971 with the formation of a non-profit corporation known as the Fayette Fund for Progress.
She said the pool has served as an important asset and a source of community pride.
Park board president Jen Williams explained that the group didn’t favor closing the facility this summer, but lack of money for repairs and maintenance left no other choice.
Park director Scott Wagner said the estimated cost for repairs is $100,000. Over the past three years, expenditures have exceeded revenue by about $16,000 annually.
In addition to repairs to the pool and deck, parts for the aging chlorination system are no longer available. He said Wauseon and Archbold spend about $20,000 each year in maintenance to prepare their pools for opening.
The park board receives $28,000 a year through a millage—a figure that’s expected to decrease due to a change in the state’s tax structure—but this money must be used for all park projects, including the pool.
If a new pool were installed, Trent Lavinder said, new state regulations would have to be followed and those would add to the costs.
It was suggested that both townships would need to get involved with financing a pool since about 40 percent of users live outside the village.
Discussion also included fund raisers and the shortage of volunteers to help with events, and seeking donations from businesses. Mike Figgins pointed out that tough financial times could limit donations by businesses.
Other suggestions included seeking a levy for a new pool and creating a long-term plan for repair or for a new pool.
Mayor Anita VanZile challenged those at the meeting to consider the value of the pool to the community.
A resident asked how the park board’s $28,000 would be used if the pool were abandoned. Williams said the board has talked about other park needs, such as new playground equipment, a skateboard park and improving existing facilities such as the basketball courts and ball fields.
Additional revenue and expense data will be collected and the board will continue to discuss the issue at its meetings. As of last week, the park board was still in need of a volunteer to join the group.
Metz noted later that the athletic booster group is seeking donations for construction of athletic facilities at the new school. Discussion needs to continue about the future of the park facilities when new fields are built at the school.