PIQUA — Approximately 30 community members joined the Piqua City Commission and the Piqua Park Board during their joint work session on Thursday evening to discuss the Piqua city pool, coming to the consensus that the community is interested in keeping the municipal pool. The question still remains, though, if the city will choose to make repairs to the current pool or start from scratch.
“I appreciate everybody’s attendance,” Mayor Kris Lee said. “Your input — your voice — is desired.”
“What we really need is obviously a new pool,” Park Board member Eddie Harvey said. Harvey said the current one is “past its prime,” so the question is, “Do we go to a new pool or do we try to rebuild the one we’ve got?”
One resident suggested trying to partner with the Miami County YMCA to create a facility similar to the Kettering Recreation Complex. Another resident spoke in favor of redoing and repairing the existing pool. Every attendee who spoke appeared in favor of having some type of pool facility.
“I know our pool is shot and all of the plumbing is shot … I would be opposed to closing the pool,” Joe Drapp of Piqua said. “If we don’t have such a facility, all those kids are looking for something else to do.”
When one resident asked how the city let the pool get to this state of disrepair, City Manager Gary Huff said that, every year he has been with the city, the city employees have talked about the pool situation with the commission.
“I think this is the first year where the city commission has said let’s move forward and do something,” Huff said.
There was also the question of financing, to which the commission was quick to note that it was undecided at this point if the city would have to pursue a levy in order to fund a new pool. Some attendees still spoke in favor of a levy if it was necessary, and others were reluctant to pursue that avenue yet.
“You want to put a levy out, I will fully support it,” Leah Berry of Piqua said.
Other attendees spoke in favor of adding on to the municipal pool site to include zero entry pool amenities, such as a splash pad or beach entry pool. Other attendees encouraged the city to implement more activities, like movie nights or Friday Night Lights swimming events, to raise revenues and funds.
Commissioner Kazy Hinds also dispelled any rumors that the discussions regarding the pool would affect this upcoming season, explaining the commission and the city is planning ahead for the future.
“We are planning to open the pool this summer,” Hinds said. “It is in the budget to open this summer.”
The pool’s 2020 fund estimates include $49,000 in revenue; $223,051 in funds transferred from the general fund; and $272,051 in expenses. The expenses include $86,461 in labor and benefits, as well as $185,590 in operations and maintenance. This budget is just the cost needed to open the pool, but the pool needs over $3 million-worth of improvements.
The largest cost of those needed improvements, which are not included in its 2020 budget, would be replacing the main pool, which would cost approximately $2.5 million. Other improvements would include repairing or replacing the concrete deck, upgrading the filtration system, installing new dive boards, replacing the roof, and repairing and repainting the steel slide structure.
In regard to attendance, Sally Brewer, a previous manager of the pool, said the pool gets a lot of attendance from surrounding communities like Bradford and Covington, noting the pool lost some attendance with teens when the diving boards went away. Brian Brookhart, director of the Piqua Public Works Department, said the cost to replace the diving boards would be approximately $20,000 due to a state requirement. Since the current pool is designed as a competitive pool, the city would have to pay the extra cost of putting in a competitive diving board instead of just a standard one.
Park Board member Edna Stiefel asked local community member Mike Yannucci about what it was like fundraising for the current pool approximately 30 years ago. Yannucci said the community raised approximately $750,000 in private donations, and the rest of the pool was funded by a levy. He noted the city ended the levy early before it was officially set to expire due to the pool getting paid off before that point.
Attendees and city officials also touched on the lack of lifeguards, with one attendee encouraging adults to consider getting certified to be a lifeguard. Brookhart said the city also plans on offering incentives to lifeguards to help cover the costs of getting certified if the lifeguards stay with the city for the duration of the season.
Lee said this work session was a good starting point. Lee and other commissioners expressed interest in engaging with a pool architect to see what the types of costs would be like to repair this current pool or build a new one, with other examples of costs of what other things the city could add. Lee also said he intended to hold additional work sessions in the future in order to continue to engage with the community. Lee also noted the city is working with local schools, both public and private, to have kids fill out a survey to see what they want in regard to the pool.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2020 Miami Valley Sunday News, all rights reserved.