PIQUA — The Piqua Municipal Pool is in need of over $3 million worth of repairs, and the city’s Park Board brought these concerns before the Piqua City Commission during its regular meeting on Tuesday evening.
“It’s past its prime,” Eddie Harvey of the Park Board said about the city’s pool, which is over 30 years old.
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 pool needs to be replaced,” Harvey said.
Harvey showed the commission a slideshow of damaged concrete, rust damage, peeling pool paint, and cracks in the pool.
The largest cost of those needed improvements, which are not included in this 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.
Harvey said the city’s daily admissions are “cheaper than anybody else” around and the membership costs are comparable to other nearby cities, but the pool’s attendance has decreased from approximately 19,273 attendees in 2008 to approximately 8,829 attendees in 2019. Harvey noted the 2019 season did face additional challenges due to rain and a lifeguard shortage.
Harvey suggested coordinating with the schools to see what children might like to see, such as a splash pad instead of a pool or a splash pad to go with the pool.
During public comment, Marcia Garrett of Piqua said she shared a petition with City Manager Gary Huff last year with approximately 100 signatures she gathered in a week advocating for the city to keep the pool open.
James Verhotz of Piqua also spoke on behalf of keeping the pool, saying it brings a “sense of community,” as well as noting it is for the community’s children.
“I think our kids need that,” Verhotz said.
Leah Berry of Piqua suggested having trained volunteers fill in to help with the lifeguard shortage. Human Resources Director Catherine Bogan said the city has tried to create additional incentives to get lifeguards to work for the city, such as offering more pay for lifeguards already trained.
Jey Roman of Piqua also advocated on behalf of the pool, saying he is in favor of keeping the pool even though he does not have kids and does not swim.
“It is important to have these things because it does build a community,” Roman said.
Commissioner Kazy Hinds addressed any rumors that the commission had already made a decision on whether or not to keep the pool open, explaining that the city has not yet made a decision. The pool is also expected to open this year, but the following season is still up in the air.
“We want to hear from the public,” Mayor Kris Lee said. “We want to figure this out.” Lee noted two possible options to save the pool, such as a committee to raise private funds for the pool or to have a levy.
Later on, Hinds and commissioner Cindy Pearson also said the pool situation came down to having funds to fix it, both speaking optimistically about the community finding a solution.
“This is a very giving city,” Hinds said.
“I think this community comes together when there’s a need,” Pearson said.
Lee scheduled a commission work session to be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 to discuss the pool. The meeting will be held in commission chambers on the second floor of the municipal building, located at 201 W. Water St., Piqua.
Community events discussed
At the end of the meeting, Lee discussed how the commission attended the “Call to Duty” ceremony held last Saturday, where the Ohio National Guard honored approximately 160 soldiers from the 1487th Transportation Company who will soon depart for a year-long overseas deployment in support of U.S. Central Command operations.
“It’s sad to see you go, but we will welcome you back,” Lee said.
Lee said how he spoke with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine at the ceremony, who asked Lee what the needs of the community were.
“One of the first things he said was, ‘How can I help you? What’s going on?’” Lee said. Lee said he brought up the need for jobs, and DeWine directed Lee to the OhioMeansJob.com website, which Lee said had a posting for over 200 jobs in the Piqua area.
Lee also said he received a thank you from the city of Troy Mayor Robin Oda for the Piqua Police Department’s help in responding to the city of Troy during the recent January tornadoes that affected the city of Troy.
“In times of need, we’re going to be there for them, and they’re going to be there for us,” Lee said.
Lee also discussed how he participated in a video being submitted for HGTV’s Home Town Takeover series, an entry being organized by Natalie Young of Piqua. Awesome Piqua chapter of the Awesome Foundation also contributed a $1,000 grant to this project. Entries selected by HGTV’s Home Town Takeover series will be featured in the show, where the downtown will receive a “facelift.” For more information, visit hgtvhometowntakeover.com.
Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Sherman also gave a presentation on the premiere of “The Last Full Measure,” which featured a story on Piqua native and pararescue specialist William Pitsenbarger. Sherman said the movie opened to 617 theaters nationwide, making $1.1 million on its opening weekend. Sherman said Piqua’s Cinemark location made eight times the average amount the rest of the theaters in the country did with that movie. Sherman also commented on the premiere event held for “The Last Full Measure” at the Miami Valley Centre Mall, where the movie’s director and producers, as well as retired U.S. Army soldiers, took part in recognizing Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice.
“They were amazed at the honor paid to them,” Sherman said.
The commission also approved a number of items on its regular agenda, including a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement to fund the extension of Scarbrough Drive approximately 390 feet; excess liability insurance for combustion turbines; excess liability insurance for the city’s dams and water, wastewater, and electric utilities; and a wage increase of 2.5 percent for the city’s non-union employees to match the cost-of-living increases the union employees negotiated.