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City council has heated debate over pool renovations

The June meeting of the Town of Mountain City, City Council began withan invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Buddy Zeurcher, the former pastor of First Christian Church. This was followed by the unanimous approval of this month’s consent calendar, including the second and final readings for ordinance #1210 and #1211 which updates the building and fire codes of the city and also approves the 2010/2011 fiscal year budget.
During his report, Mayor Kevin Parsons addressed the council with an option to bid on new pool equipment for the city pool. Over the past few months the council decided to pay approximately $30,000 to have the pool renovated, making it acceptable for operation this season. According to Parsons, the equipment in question would add much-needed infrastructure to the pool facilities, potentially bringing in more revenue. Included in the bid were several benches, a new fiberglass lifeguard stand to replace the current wooden one, and a large enclosed water slide. Mountain City’s pool is already known for its high dive and Parsons hoped that this new waterslide would become the newest attraction.

Parsons didn’t anticipate the total cost of the slide and other equipment to exceed $3,600 and made the motion to fund up to $5,000 to cover the costs of transporting the materials from their current location in Ohio and the expense in setting them up. Opposed to this motion was Alderman Lawrence Keeble who stated that while he supported renovating the pool rather than closing it down, “We have to draw the line on spending somewhere. This is not a matter of $5,000 or close the pool.” The issue was tabled until the end of the meeting when the council voted on the subject. Parsons motion failed by one vote, with three voting against and two voting for.

In reaction to this decision Parsons stated, “As I introduced to city council the idea of installing a water slide at the swimming pool, costs began at $17,000 and went upward. So, of course, I am disappointed that city council did not at the very least authorize spending up to $3,600 on the water pool slide, benches, lifeguard stand and other pool items that we would use. We desperately need to purchase a lifeguard stand anyway and those cost upwards of $2,800 for just that one item. The council spent $26,000 one month ago on repairs just to be able to open the pool this year.

“Alderman Keeble was the strongest supporter on sinking that large amount of money in the pool so I felt sure he would be on board with this, but I see I was mistaken. I felt then that we could use that money toward an enclosed pool that could be used year round but Keeble didn’t want to wait and made the motion to band-aid the current pool yet again. The $26,000.00 spent will not bring in any additional revenue, whereas I believe the slide alone would have created enough buzz to get a strong return on that small investment. I can’t understand some of the rationale, or lack of, that is given to some of the decisions made at city hall.”

The pool opened Monday, May 31st and operates 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The daily admission is $2 for ages 12 and under and $3 for ages over 12. There will be no swimming lessons this year. Pool parties will be available Monday through Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m. and also 6 to 9 p.m. Contact city hall at 727-8005 for additional information.

Mayor Parsons also brought up the subject of animal control fees. Currently the county animal shelter charges $35 to accept dogs and cats from residents most of which are eventually adopted out. The city animal shelter, which unfortunately often has to euthanize the animals, charges less and as a result has seen an increased number of county residents using their facilities. To help handle this problem and hopefully see more pets adopted, Parsons made a motion to raise the city fees to $45, which was voted on unanimously.
Vice mayor Kenny Icenhour stated that he had been working with County Mayor Dick Grayson to select someone for the position of economic coordinator, and that the interview process was finishing. Icenhour also stated that there were several qualified candidates and that he was looking for the person who would best work to bring business into the county and city. The new coordinator will be announced and asked to attend the next meeting.
Alderman Lawrence Keeble stated that he was very impressed with the recent Memorial Day services held at the Johnson County Community and Senior Centers. More than 200 guests were in attendance bringing the total attendance for the month up to 1,290.
Alderman Willis Walker informed the council of a decision by the planning commission concerning a right of way near the junction of Shoun and Oak Streets. The planning commission suggested that the ROW be returned to the four adjacent property owners assuming that the property owners pay all fees for surveying and deed work. Because of the presence of a water line on the property the city would also maintain an easement on the property so that the city would be able to work on the water line. Because some of the property owners have not been contacted, the mayor suggested giving City Recorder Terry Reece authority to contact the parties involved before a decision could be reached.
Reece also reported that Pastor John Hammet requested a non-denominational tent revival in Ralph Stout Park. The revival would be in August and would go to help the fire department. Mayor Parsons was in support of this idea but Alderman Willis Walker pointed out that it might set a bad precedent and that if the council allowed one group a revival, they would have to allow everyone the privilege. Parsons made the motion to accept but the motion died due to the lack of a second.
Reece finished by announcing that the Tennessee Department of Transportation announced that they would begin a paving project in the county this year. The project includes Highway 418 towards Silver Lake and encompasses down town as well. Recipients of the Jeff Shaw Memorial Scholarship, honoring former volunteer fireman, Rescue Squad member, and initial director of 911 Jeff Shaw were also announced. Lindsey Deete DeBord and Ashley Nicole Channell will both receive a one-time award totaling $500, a scholarship intended to support students pursuing medical services or public safety fields of education.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!