Toledo City Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson unveiled a plan Friday to take $261,000 out of the city budget dedicated for street repair and instead use that money to open two more pools for several weeks this summer.
“The value is having an outlet, an opportunity, for people in the community to be able to swim,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said. “We had a committee hearing [this week] and people from throughout the city and the county came to talk about how important it is to have a place for people to swim.”
Mayor D. Michael Collins said he did not agree with the idea, which would bring the city’s total budget for operating six pools and a splash pad to $527,199 since $266,199 of general fund money was already approved in the 2014 budget to operate four pools and the Savage Park splash pad.
“If Council President Hicks-Hudson deems it more appropriate to move money out of streets projects and things of that nature, then we will cede to that wish, but I am not going to move money for the capital improvements budget to operate two swimming pools for less than seven weeks when the condition of the streets in her district are in serious disrepair unless she wants to forgo street repair in her district. I am not taking money out of other districts,” Mr. Collins said.
The funded aquatic facilities are Navarre, Pickford, Roosevelt, and Willys pools, and the splash pad at Savage park, which are to open July 1 through mid to late August.
The pools opened last year were Roosevelt, Wilson, Navarre, Jamie Farr, Pickford, and Willys. They are usually opened in mid-June.
A March 19 city report compared the 2013 costs for the pools versus attendance and found the average taxpayer cost per visit was $8 for the splash pad; $11 for Pickford; $21 for Willys; $33 for Roosevelt; $41 for Navarre, $47 for Jamie Farr, and $87 for Wilson.
The mayor originally released a 2014 budget with no money for pools. He offered last month to slash the police department salary and benefits funding by $266,199 to fund opening four pools and the splash pad at Savage Park.
Those savings come from the loss of seven police cadets who will not graduate this month.
Council approved that plan for the pools with a 10-1 vote. Councilman Tom Waniewski voted against, and Councilman Rob Ludeman abstained.
“It is not a good way to spend money,” Mr. Waniewski said of Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s latest plan. “I respect all of my colleagues’ desire to open pools, but I think the mayor hit it right on the head when he said we have a greater need to repair streets.”
Mr. Waniewski also said Ms. Hicks-Hudson would have to sacrifice money for street repair from her district, which includes downtown, parts of central Toledo, and parts of the Old West End, if she wants more for pools.
“None of those pools are in my district, and I don't want to play the district card,” he said. “I consider this to be a great compromise to open the four pools and the splash pad.”
Toledo City Council’s parks and recreation committee learned Wednesday that three municipal pools need major repairs, including Jamie Farr and Wilson pools in the north end. According to information given to the committee, the two north end pools and Navarre Pool in East Toledo may each need about $50,000 in repair work to be ready for summer-aquatics activities.
Wilson Pool, at 3253 Otto St. near Stickney and Central avenues, and Jamie Farr Pool, 2200 Summit St., have numerous leaks in pipes and fittings used in the skimming and water-filtration systems, causing the pools to lose large amounts of water, according to the report by Northwest Pools Inc. of Toledo, which was hired by the city to inspect the pools.
Navarre Pool, 1001 White St., the only east side pool, was deemed in better shape than the two north-end pools, and Northwest Pools estimated that the $50,000 in repairs could wait for another year, the report stated.