MACOMB — A last-minute engineering memo received Tuesday caused the city park district to postpone any decision regarding the future of the Glenwood Park Swimming Pool when the board of commissioners met that evening. The board spent 45-minutes discussing the pool.
Engineer and architect Reggie Benton had sent out a letter earlier stating that repairs, which some estimated at a cost of $100,000, would need to be made before the pool could be safely operated. But Mayor Mike Inman then asked Benton if there were any short-term repairs that could be made that could prolong the life of the swimming pool for at least one more summer.
Benton's response to the mayor was sent out Monday and shared with the park district on Tuesday. He addressed "intermediate measures the city and park district could implement to allow the pool to be opened safely from a structural standpoint for a short-term period." The engineer suggested temporary shoring to support the concrete pool deck, including footings and adjustable height columns.
Commissioner Steve Horrell said the information might offer the city and park district some breathing room in order to explore longer-range aquatic solutions. "A lot of times committees are a way of not taking ownership of something," he said, "but I truly feel this is a community responsibility."
Board Vice-President Pat Sowers said he feels the general public has not been encouraged to weigh in on the swimming pool situation. "Citizens have never had a chance to make their feelings known through a referendum," he said. "We need to have enough respect for the public to have them let their opinions be known."
Board President John Hemingway said a 2014 intergovernmental agreement between the park district and the city called for a public referendum in November, 2015. "The park district fully intended to pursue this but it didn't happen," he said. The agreement also established a $6.5 million ceiling on any new pool endeavor.
Hemingway said the district has voted not to "roll over" the current intergovernmental agreement but has asked the city to negotiate a new agreement.  Concerning the present agreement, he said, "If total repair costs were to cap at $37,500 apiece for the city and the district, I think we are obligated to open the pool."
Park Director Rachel Lenz said she would need time to hire staff if the pool is reopened. Commissioner Russell Hamm asked, "With usage not being what it used to be, could the money be better spent on other things?"
Lenz responded, "This is one of our hardest financial seasons. Who do we lay off or what programs do we cut if we put more money into the pool?"
Hemingway said he would seek city input on a spending plan. Commissioners then voted to schedule a special park board meeting on Tuesday, May 2, to again discuss the swimming pool.
In other action, Sowers submitted his resignation from the board, effective May 1. He is moving to take a job in Maryland. He has served as a park commissioner since 2007 and board vice president since 2011. The board presented him with a resolution of appreciation and a plaque.
Valencia Pettigrew was elected as the next vice president. Hemingway said the board would need to fill two vacancies that will open in May, the remaining two years of Sowers' term and a two-year term that resulted from Horrell's decision not to run for election in April.

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