With a look of disappointment on her face, mayor Kathy Valentine announced Tuesday that the city commission "was just not going to get there." Her disappointment was evident.
Her dissappointment was genuine and shared.
The city commission was unable to move forward with plans to renovate the city-owned municipal pool. It was able to move on with needed replacements to filters to keep the pool open for another year. But to move forward with a plan to keep it going for 20 more years is another question.
The commission had in front of them a plan, an esitmated $1.7 million in renovations. They also had a funding plan in front of them designed to have that $1.7 million paid through the public building commission to avoid an increase to the mill levy.
What they did not have in front of them — and is needed — is a commitment from the Recreation Commission and USD 373 to continue funding for the PBC for the next 20 years. The PBC was formed over an interlocal agreement that will be expiring and needed re-upped.
Without that agreement final, the commission as a whole was reluctant to move forward — and they should be. Momma always said "don't count your chickens before they hatch." While it is expected that the Rec and school district will both re-up the agreement, there is no ink on those dotted lines.
Valentine admonished the council to not let the issue of pool renovations drop — to take some time to come up with a good plan and move forward with that plan.
That felt very much like Deja Vu. This paper first reported on the murky waters surrounding the future of the pool in August of 2017 — more than a year ago. At the time, statements were made that the city needed to take the time to come up with a plan, and then move forward.
There was about a year for that process. They took that year. City and rec staff made inquiries about what could be done to improve the pool, and what companies would be interested in doing the work. They also spent several months on figuring out how all of this could be paid for.
But all of those plans seemed to unravel in the last month. There was the stumbling blocks of the PBC, the general state of the city budget, if outside entities had any interest in pool operations and others.
We hope that this time around, during this year, the process will be different. We hope that the city commission can get comfortable with the plans and move forward. And we hope that it all happens without the bulk of discussion happening in the final weeks before a deadline.
— Kansan Editorial Board