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 New Rules May Drown Park Pool

May 13, 2009 - The sun may be setting on the Sunset Park swimming pool.

During a special meeting Saturday morning, members of the Knightstown Department of Parks and Recreation Board agreed to issue a statement announcing that the pool would not open June 3, as had been planned. The primary reasons for their decision are the pool's noncompliance with a new law that took effect in December and budgetary constraints.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed into law in late 2007and took effect last December. Designed to prevent injury and death from drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas, the law requires all public pools and spas to have drain covers and drain systems that meet certain specifications before they can open.

Park Board President Mac O'Connor said at Saturday's meeting that the estimated cost of installing the required drain system and drain covers could be $15,000-$16,000. Bruce Brown, the board's vice president, said that a Greenfield pool business he checked with told him the cost would be no less than $5,000, and would likely be more.

In addition to work needed to comply with the new federal law, Brown also said there are other repairs needed at the pool. He said the fiberglass liner is deteriorating and has several holes in it, and he noted problems with the concrete near the diving boards.

For the park board, these issues with the pool arose at the same time the state has said the town needs to cut the park's budget. Two weeks earlier, board members had learned from Knightstown Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines that the state said $11,000 must be cut from the $61,635 park budget the town submitted last fall.

Derek Hall, the board's newest member and an officer with the Knightstown Police Department, said he was looking into getting a grant designed to help with emergency situations. He also said he planned to check with Rushville about grant funds they received to build their city's water park.

"I hate taking things out of the park … because it's one less thing for the kids," Hall said.

O'Connor said he liked the idea of trying to get grant money. Brown also commented that donations from individuals and businesses in the community had also served as a source of funds for work on the pool in the past.

As for cuts to their budget, park board members provided Haines, who attended Saturday's meeting, with a revised budget form showing the following cuts: concessions ($4,000, cut to $2,000); grant writer ($1,000, cut to $500); building repairs ($9,000, cut to $4,500); grounds maintenance ($6,500, cut to $3,250); and other equipment ($1,300, cut to $550).

"These decisions can change," Haines told board members. She said specific allocations in the budget, even if reduced now, could be increased later, if needed, by making decreases elsewhere.

In other business, Hall reported that new basketball goals had been installed at the park. Works Manager Mel Matlock told the board it could cost about $4,000 to redo the basketball court with asphalt, plus another $300-$400 for the paving company to do the court's striping.

Hall said he was working with some kids to set up a two-day, four-on-four basketball tournament at the park. If enough people take part, he said funds raised from the event could help pay for the asphalt.

The park board voted to have Matlock place the basketball court on the town's list of proposed paving projects for the summer. "We've got some new goals," O'Connor said. "We might as well update the surface."

Hall also suggested the park board consider getting some paddleboats for the park's lake, saying they could provide a source of revenue to help offset losses if the pool doesn't open. O'Connor said he thought that was a great idea.

The park board agreed to continue meeting on the second Saturday of each month at 8:30 a.m. The meetings, which are open to the public, have also been moved from the park shelter house to the town council chambers at Knightstown Town Hall.


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