PORTSMOUTH — The search for funds continues for the rehabilitation of McKinley Pool after an ordinance allowing funds to be obligated toward repairs was tabled Monday evening.
The Ordinance, which would have authorized the appropriation of $400,000.00 and $320,000.00 for the rehabilitation of McKinley Pool and authorizing the City Manager to follow the proper procurement process for a project under the Design Build criteria was tabled after a lengthy discussion.
During the meeting councilperson Sean Dunne made a motion to table the ordinance but retracted the motion after the mayor asked if the council could still discuss the ordinance if it was tabled. Dunne retracted his motion and made a new motion for the first reading of the ordinance, which allowed discussion.
Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon shared with the council she was in favor of using the money the city has to make repairs on the pool. Gordon stated she was part of a meeting where contractors came in and gave an estimate of how much it would cost to repair and thinks it is a good investment.
“This is not a new project,” Gordon said. “I realize there is validity when there is a new project to get grant money to come in and use it. However, I think to table it and push it back is not good. This is time-sensitive.”
Gordon shared if the council didn’t move on the ordinance, she feared the pool and the repairs would be put off for another year.
“This is how the pool has gotten to be in the disrepair it is in,” Gordon said. “Every year the dirt gets pushed to the end of the road. I think it’s an existing asset to our city and it’s one of the only few things kids can do in our city.”
Gordon stated while the pool has been in disrepair for a while, she understands that the city wasn’t always in the financial shape to allocate money to the repairs.
“The city had a lot of financial problems, so the money wasn’t there,” Gordon said. “The money is now here, and I think if you look at the money on the table and you look at the 20 years or more it hasn’t been worked on and you stretch this out in the future that defrays the cost to 18,000 to $20,000 a year, which should have been put into this all along.”
Gordon also shared with the council if they thought all the projects in the city needed to be funded by grants that the council should look into hiring a full-time grant writer.
“I think moving forward this shouldn’t be tabled,” Gordon said. “To put it off one more year or say we need more money or some magic money, this is how things don’t get done.”
Councilpersons Sean Dunne also shared his concerns with the pool and the ordinance, asking when the estimates were done for repairs and if the County Commissioners had been asked to possibly help financially or if any grants could be found.
“I guess what I’m confused about is if it’s so time-sensitive why was there all that time that elapsed without conversations with the county or with the review of grant opportunities,” Dunne said. “I guess I was under the assumption that was part of the process that had already been initiated.”
Dunne stated it hasn’t been easy to get money into the pool and that he agreed with Gordon of neglect, but the city is now looking at spending more than $700,000 of tax-payer money without looking into grants or help from the commissioners.
“There are a large number of grant opportunities that would help with the funding of this,” Dunne said. “What I think we should commit to is that prioritization of the pool within those grants and review grants that we don’t know about.”
Dunne listed several examples of projects the city has done throughout the years stating while those projects were not 100% funded by outside grants and money, they were assisted with outside funding that lowered the cost of taxpayer dollars being spent.
“What we have done is stretch one dollar into three dollars,” Dunne said. “In my view, it’s good governance. It’s taking limited funds from the city and making it into something much bigger, getting the majority of the money from outside our area.”
Councilperson Edwin Martell also spoke during the meeting stating he has spoken with Scioto County Commissioner Scottie Powell and that Powell would like to have a meeting with Gordon and others involved with the pool to make improvements.
After a few more minutes of discussion, the council took a vote to table the ordinance without an exact date to bring the ordinance back up for discussion. All members of the council voted to approve the motion to table the ordinance except for Gordon.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at [email protected]
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