Committee hones pool closure and renovation plans

STRASBURG – The town’s Recreation, Parks and Trails Committee focused its plans Thursday to close the town pool next summer for renovations.

The gradual consensus to close the pool formed after reports documented the pool lost $90,172 in 2016, $50,546 in 2015 and $81,712 in 2014.

While the closure would put the town’s swimming community in a pinch, Vice Mayor Scott Terndrup said it’s clear the pool needs work. He continued that this summer would be the best time to close it, given how the change in school season shortened students’ summers.

“The pool is a deficit already for the town,” he said. “Simply to run the pool costs the taxpayers money. This is an opportunity for a short-term pain for a longer term gain in helping the town recoup some of the costs of renovations by not opening. It just saves the taxpayers this $73,000.”

School ends June 13  and resumes Aug. 7. The switch takes the school district off of an academic calendar that began after Labor Day.

Although most committee members agreed the town needs to invest in the pool to boost its future revenues, discord arose regarding where to allocate funds.

The town has just less than $73,000 in its budget to spend on renovations without securing any grants or moving other funds into the pool’s, according to data provided by Town Manager Ryan Spitzer.

At the meeting, Spitzer offered different ideas for what to spend the money on, including shading parts of the pool, building a splash park or installing a water slide. However, Mayor Rich Orndorff Jr. said the town should focus on fixing what it owns before adding anything new. He said renovations of the pavilion, bath house, or concession stand would be more prudent.

When the town invited Ira Rae Crisman, coach of the town swim team, to speak, her opinion surprised the council.

“I’m a logical person, and logic tells me that this pool needs work,” she said. “I get that it’s going to be difficult. I don’t like it, but as a businessperson, I understand it.”

Continuing her thought Crisman requested the town help her team pay the steeper fee of swimming at the Signal Knob Recreation Center. Orndorff in turn said he would personally help her negotiate a price, and that council would consider allocating funds to not overburden parents of team members.

Looking forward, the committee still needs to decide whether it will use its resources on adding new attractions to the pool or restoring some of its aging structures such as the pavilion or bath house.

At the end of the meeting, Orndorff made a statement to the public to quell rumors on social media and elsewhere that council is planning to close the pool for good.

“To those critics on social media who have said that this council will close this pool and never reopen it, I say shame on them for spreading false rumor and innuendo,” he said. “That is not true.”

Town Council’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m Dec. 13 in Town Hall.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com