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Van Wert to ask voters to back new public pool

Three years after Van Wert s only public pool closed, the county park district will ask voters in March to approve a combined tax issue to build and operate a new facility.

Preliminary plans call for a 16,600-square-foot pool to be built near Smiley Park in west Van Wert at a cost of $2.5 million, said Pat Ryan, a member of the Van Wert County Park District.

A 0.6-mill, 28-year bond issue would raise $200,000 a year toward construction, while a 0.3-mill, five-year levy would generate $100,000 annually to run the pool. The taxes would appear on the ballot as a single issue, Mr. Ryan said.

The park district developed the pool plans, as well as the tax proposals, in response to residents requests for a summertime place to swim.

“A lot of areas have some natural swimming facilities, but Van Wert County doesn t have any sandy beaches,” he said. “I think everybody feels that a town our size, we should have some outdoor swimming facility.”

The city s last public pool, built more than 40 years ago at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds, was closed in 2001 because of maintenance headaches.

County Commissioner Clair Dudgeon said the old pool s liner leaked, forcing officials to pump more than two million gallons into it in the summer of 2000. “It had severe structural damage,” he said. “Reconstruction of that was going to be almost as costly as building new.”

He said there s an obvious need for a new public pool.

“To me, we need to have activities for young people,” he said.

Plans for the new pool include eight lanes for competitive lap swimming, a zero-depth entry area, a water slide, and a diving well.

Mr. Ryan said the pool has been scaled down from initial proposals, which called for up to 22,000 square feet.

“It s still plenty big,” he said. “We just felt we d try to be as conservative as we could and still have a quality addition to the community.”

Mr. Ryan said that if the bond issue and operating levy pass in March, the pool could be built and opened for the summer of 2005.

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