Thursday, June 15, 2006
City aldermen want to get pool operational for summer
By BARRY BURLESON
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen plans to get the city swimming pool open as soon as possible after a necessary repair.
The mayor and board talked about the expense involved in fixing and operating the pool on West Valley Street at their regular meeting Tuesday, June 6.
The discussion focused on whether to spend approximately $18,000 to repair a valve or an estimated $2,000 to fix a pump only, the latter being enough to get the pool open.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry suggested talking with Rust College officials about perhaps using the college’s indoor swimming facilities short-term until the board decides what to do with the city pool long-term.
The board gave DeBerry the authority to first check with Rust officials, then if that doesn’t work out, negotiate a price to get the pump repaired. City clerk Belinda McDonald said Friday the Rust option did not work out.
Alderman Naylond Hayes, during the June 6 meeting, pushed to repair the pump so the pool can still be operated this summer.
“We operated last summer without the drainage valve,” Hayes said.
Alderman Tim Liddy said, “If we can get it up and running at minimal cost, let’s do it.”
Alderman Garrie Colhoun asked about the possibility of a new, bigger and better pool in a new location in future years. He said he thought it had been a topic in budget discussions several years ago.
“We have been looking at alternatives,” DeBerry said, “one being a new pool and the other being a water park. We need to be looking at other options. We need to look at numbers generated at the pool.”
City officials also had copies of a June 3 story in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, which focused on the city of Booneville being forced to close its swimming pool because of escalating costs involved. Other cities, the articles said, have also shut down pools in the past few years, including Corinth, Amory, Fulton and Pontotoc.
Mayor DeBerry said the city needs money coming in from the pool. He talked about the expenses of upkeep, insurance, water, lifeguards and other personnel involved in running the facility.
“At some point those who utilize our facilities have to make a contribution,” he said. “The Park and Rec has to have revenues or it will be a drain on the general budget.”
Alderman Hayes was against charging a fee.
“If they’re doing something constructive, it benefits the city,” he said. “They’re staying out of trouble.”
Alderman Liddy suggested long-range planning concerning the city’s park and recreation facilities. He mentioned not just the pool, but such things as ball fields and lighting.
“We need to have something we can all agree on and put it in the budget,” Liddy said. “It will be good for our citizens. The park we have now is not laid out efficiently.”
Mayor DeBerry agreed. He said the city needs to get an engineer to come in who actually works with parks.
“We need to first look at the layout of Sam Coopwood Park,” DeBerry said. “There’s a lot of dead space we can’t access.”
Liddy said cities all over the United States are upgrading their park and recreation facilities.
“We have to be competitive for retaining and attracting citizens,” Liddy said.
DeBerry said it’s a quality of life issue.
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