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Published: Monday, 3/5/2001

Van Wert's old pool may not keep cool

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

VAN WERT - People who want to take a dip in this community's only municipal pool could have one less option this summer.

The city-county pool may not open at the Van Wert County fairgrounds in May because of costly repairs, officials said.

“It needs really major repairs and the funds are just not available to do the repairs,” Van Wert Mayor Steve Gehres said.

“I'm not saying God can't work a miracle and have it open this summer. But right now, I don't think it will open.”

Mr. Gehres said the pool and nearby wading area gave officials headaches last summer because they continually lost water because of outdated plumbing.

Van Wert leaders had to pump about 2 million gallons of water into the pools, something they hated to do because of a city water shortage last spring.

“We hate to see water go down the pipes,” the mayor said.

He said the pools are in need of repairs “just right down the list,” including a filtration system, lining, and plumbing. Mr. Gehres estimated that it could cost $100,000 to $150,000 to upgrade the entire system.

Historically, the city and county have split all pool bills, including spending about $12,000 each to open it and another $12,000 each to close it last season because it failed to generate any money.

The local YWCA operated the pool last year and said its use had declined from previous years.

County Commissioner Clair Dudgeon said a pool committee has not yet made a final decision about the pool's future.

“We certainly hate to say, obviously, `No pool.' We'd like to explore all avenues,” he said. “But it's going to be real, real difficult to repair and get the current pool into good operational position.”

He said committee members are researching other municipalities to see how they generate additional revenue for extras such as pools.

In the nearby Paulding, voters in November, 1999, passed a five-year, 1.1-mill tax measure that generates about $40,000 a year to operate and maintain the facility. A $1.04 million bond issue was approved the previous year to build a pool.

Columbus Grove residents annually have a polar bear plunge fund-raiser in the winter for their pool, a 1937 winding stone structure that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Van Wert Commissioner Ava Good said the city-county pool hasn't generated that type of community support in recent years. She said that's because the YWCA and the YMCA, as well as the Elks Club, have their own pools.

Ms. Good said the pool committee would meet March 8 to continue discussions.. She said it plans to review research and a YMCA recommendation not to reopen the pool this year.



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