By Naomi Hatch
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about this pool situation,” said Snowflake Mayor Kelly Willis at the Sept. 25 council meeting. “I’ve had a change of heart and change of mind about things such as the pool in the community.”
The mayor noted that homeowners will put money into their home to keep it up and have it nice, knowing their home doesn’t make them any money. “I believe we have a community that’s like my home,” he said. “I personally would feel bad in losing that pool.
“We went down there in a big rain storm and saw the rain coming through the roof. I feel like the biggest thing we can do, if we can do anything, is get a roof on it,” he continued. “I believe until we can get some renovations in there, we can still continue to use our pool. I still believe we can keep it running if we get the roof fixed.”
“I don’t believe the town can afford a new pool. It’s risky putting that much money in an old pool like this,” said Recreation and Parks Director Don Camacho. “All we might be able to do is fix it where we have to fix it to keep it.”
“I agree with the mayor,” said Vice Mayor Jason Whiting, suggesting a committee be appointed comprised of staff as well as members of the pool committee.
Marie Caldwell, president of the pool committee, was in the audience. Whiting had spoken to her previously and asked her to share some of her thoughts.
“Our pool committee has come up with a lot of ideas,” she said and went on to share some with the council. “We’re here to help the pool; it’s not the pool committee versus the staff.” She said the purpose of the pool committee was not to take away staff jobs, but to be able to give them ideas, to think outside the box.
Caldwell said the pool needs to be run like a business and they need to come up with ways to generate money. She suggested a $10 family fee that went toward maintenance, but expressed concern that a computer was needed.
Library Director Cathie McDowell offered a computer that was being replaced through a grant.
“We have a very active swim team,” said Caldwell noting there were 40 kids on the team, but said they weren’t as competitive as the Winslow swimmers, who swim year round. The Snowflake pool is only open two months a year.
Caldwell said that the swim team raised $1,000 to $2,000. “We’re starting to get money,” she said, “but our little nickels and dimes…”
She expressed appreciation for White Mountain Sports help with the Sweet Tri, but noted that was only one day a year.
Caldwell also advised the council that they missed an opportunity to apply for a grant for solar panels be-cause repairs to the roof were needed.
Camacho had a 2008 estimate of $88,320 for a thermo plastic membrane roof and a 2010 estimate of $75,222 for a metal panel roof. The cost estimate to renovate the pool in 2008 was $176,000, plus $94,000 to replace the filtering system and heater. He said those estimates did not include a ventilation system, which is needed.
Councilman Chris Brimhall cautioned the council, stating, “We’re very heavily involved in the academy renovation…so if we’re going to branch out we need to make sure we can afford those projects.” He noted that he was not saying which was the most important project.
“The pool, because of budget constraints, has limped along and limped along, and we’ve re-patched. We’re at the point that critical decisions have to be made,” said Town Manager Paul Watson.
“The bigger thing to me is, we don’t have good numbers on not only the roof, but the whole project,” Wat-son continued. “An assessment needs to be made of that whole facility, not just piecemeal, and how does that fit in with the overall picture.”
Watson noted that he has heard from the public they need to put more money into the roads, and earlier that evening they toured the police department and saw that they need new vehicles.
“At some point we need to see what is the cost benefit analysis versus the other services or amenities that we need to offer,” said Watson. He noted that they could come up with $100,000 out of the contingency fund, but then there wouldn’t be money for other projects.
Councilman Tom Poscharsky suggested it might be possible to put some sort of cover over the pool and take off the roof, utilizing a solar system.
“Maybe we’d be better off to chuck the whole thing and build a community center between the two communities,” he said.
“In my opinion if we’re going to look at what to do with that facility, we need better tools,” said Watson, explaining they need to know what needs to be done and how long repairs would be good for the pool.
It was decided that town staff members will secure real estimates on what the cost of repairs will be so a serious evaluation of the situation can be made.
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By Naomi Hatch