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Le Roy pool

What You Get for the Cost of a Pizza

By Jennifer Keys
What You Get for the Price of a Pizza

When I was running for Town Council 2 years ago I started attending both Town and Village Board meetings so I could learn as much as I could about everything that our local government does. The Village was in the process of discussing what to do with the municipal pool. They were concerned that there was not enough use of it to support the expense to fix it. The list of repairs they had were quite costly. They stated that since constituents were not coming to meetings or calling them at home that there was mass apathy about the pool. There had been discussion about circulating a survey to gauge interest. At a meeting that fall (2 years ago) the board began a discussion that appeared to be going in the direction of closing the pool without the survey. Another Village resident and I spoke up and asked that they not do that and instead conduct the survey as previously agreed to.

A “survey” was circulated in the LeRoy Pennysaver. It asked some personal information and was not anonymous. It was not well responded to. About only 126 surveys were returned. The majority of those surveys supported having either a pool or a spray park. Given that this was not a significant percentage of the population it was disregarded and again the finger was pointed at mass apathy.

I did not win the seat that I sought on the Town Council, but I continued to attend meetings and to speak up about the pool. When I was campaigning for Town Council the pool was a big issue. Every person, save 1, that I spoke to who spoke about the pool came right out and said they wanted it and that it was a shame it had not been opened recently. I then decided to run for Village Board in 2010.

The back and forth about the pool went on for a few months and then at a Village Board meeting prior to the March 2010 Village elections a resolution to permanently close the pool was passed. I was then elected, along with Bob Taylor, and I was reminded that the people wanted the pool and that was I was elected.

being sworn in I continued the discussion about the pool. During the time since March 2010 a group of concerned citizens came forward with a plan to address the repairs that are needed for the pool to be brought up to code and opened. They solicited donations and have raised enough money to not only complete the repairs that are required, but also to update some of the facilities. They presented their idea to the Village Board this past spring, early summer, and asked that their donations be accepted and the pool be opened. In addition, to monetary donations they had donations of time, labor, and materials.

The back and forth continued and finally this past July the mayor put forth a resolution that in summary declared the pool and its buildings surplus. The pool could then be sold to LeRoy Pool, LLC for $1.00 and the land leased for 99 years. LeRoy Pool, LLC would then own and run the pool. The resolution also contained a pledge of $11,000 per year from the Village budget to the pool. This was in line with what the Village had budgeted for the past several years (until this last summer 2011 when it was not budgeted for). This resolution passed 4-1. The difficulty is that there was no such entity as LeRoy Pool, LLC.

During this time as well, concerned citizens who were in support of the pool packed the Village Boardroom during several meetings to speak up and discuss why they supported the pool (or not, as was the case with one person). In addition, a petition was circulated in support of opening the pool and pledging to help fund raise to keep it going. This petition was presented to the Village Board.

Rather than be discouraged, the group of concerned citizens asked the Town Council if they would buy the pool and run a recreation program out of it as they had in the past. In return the group would still contribute the money they had raised, as well as complete the needed repairs. They would continue on as a pool committee and continue to raise money to support the pool, which the Village funded the $11,000 that was agreed upon and the Town fund the same amount of money it had put towards the pool in the past. This is the same pledge that the group had made to the Village as well. The Town did not want to purchase the pool, but agreed that they would follow through on this plan if they could lease it for $1.00. They drew up a contract and signed it. The contract was sent to the Village attorney and the Village Board. The contract has yet to be voted on by the Village Board.

In addition, it should be noted that during the time between the resolution’s passing and the Town’s agreement to lease the pool, a group of concerned citizens (myself included) met with a representative from the County Health Department who shared with us what needs to be done in order to bring the pool up to code. Of the items that were listed, at least 2 had already been addressed before the pool was closed, depth markers around both pools and arrows on the pipes in the pump house showing direction of flow along with what the flow is. The rest are not anywhere near the cost that has been suggested, ie: putting garbage cans with lids in the locker/bathrooms, placing soap dispensers in the showers, hot water in the showers, a chlorine and ph test kit, and new resuscitation masks. In regards to the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA) pools with single drains are permitted in pools, such as the Le Roy pool, under certain conditions, including the drains being big enough to prevent blockage by a person and/or having an emergency shut off. This will be researched further and ensured that it meets the Federal Code.

A concerned citizen who has been very straightforward in negotiating all of this and who has supported opening the pool from the very beginning also put together the figures in regards to how much it will cost the average household to keep the pool going under these circumstances. $14.98 or the cost of a pizza. The sum of all of this discussion and indecision is the price of one pizza per year or a cup of coffee per month.

Le Roy Community Pool update at town meeting tonight

By Jennifer Keys

The 2011-2012 school year has started. It is September 8 and the community pool has gone another summer without being opened. What makes this September 8 different from last September 8, though, is that there has been action taken.

In July at a very well attended open meeting, local attorney Mike Welsh made a proposal to the Le Roy Village Board to fix the pool with donations (thank you to the Giambrones) and volunteer labor. The village board in turn voted 4-1 to rescind the previous official closing of the pool and then in another vote of 4-1 made the pool and its buildings surplus, freeing them to be sold to an entity for one dollar and pledging $11,000 per year to maintain the pool.

The problem is that there has not been an entity willing to buy the pool, nor was there one at the time of the vote. A petition was also presented to the board by a concerned citizen signed by concerned citizens who pledged to fund raise and keep the pool going. In addition, the village board voted to create a pool committee to explore all of the options and try to get some answers to questions that have been asked. To date this committee has not been formed, perhaps because of the potential outlined below.

The last word that I have received indicates that the same group of concerned citizens who has been working with Mike Welsh will present an option to the Le Roy Town Council this evening. It involves the town taking over the pool with the support of the proposal made to the village board and the money the village board has pledged.

This is, of course, one of the options suggested in comments to my previous blog about the pool.

As I promised during the same discussion, I have found out more information about a referendum. The village could attach a referendum to the March 2012 public vote for little cost, whereas if we were to hold a separate referendum it would cost us about $20,000. Yes, there are town and county elections in November, but as they are not village elections, the village would have to pay to hold a referendum.

The problem is that March is a little too late to get it open for next summer. Also, I learned that a referendum is NOT binding, though it would show what the voting public wants.

I am writing today’s blog to update everyone who is interested in the pool. The Le Roy Town Council meeting takes place tonight at 7 (Thursday, Sept. 8). The pool is not a dead issue, unless you want it to be. I hope to see you there.

The Day of the Pool Discussion

By Jennifer Keys

Tonight we will be discussing the pool at the board meeting at 7 at the Le Roy Village Hall. Below is a letter that the mayor has distributed to Village Board members, various local media, and has had me distribute to the Le Roy Business Council. I hope he won't mind that I have blogged it here; I did let him know that was my intention, though, and did not get any opposition. I will simply type it here in its entirety and exactly as the Mayor typed it. I will not paraphrase or summarize as I would like you to look at it and draw your own conclusions. Please note that the previous board voted to close the pool at the board meeting prior to Bob Taylor and me being sworn in. We were not a part of that decision. Please do attend the meeting as I know you have strong opinions and that is what makes democracy work. As always, thank you for reading. Thank you, Howard, for giving us this space to use.

"Dear Mr. Welsh,

     Thank you for your visit Wednesday, it was a very informative meeting. I came away with two important insights. First, your ease with which you can raise funds and second, your recognition of the Village Board's reticence to expand infrasturcture costs in a time of difficult budgets.

     The primary reason that the Village Board unanimously decided to close the LeRoy Pool was based on projected expenditures for both current and future repairs and operations. However, we know that repairs and operations can be done by a private entity for much less cost than if done by the Vilage. The proposed schedule of repairs presented that you presented in your letter of July 12, 2011 clearly illustrates this, for example:

                       Removing the surrounding deck of the large pool and replacing it with correctly pitched deck and attending to various drain connections would cost the Village an estimated $45,000, the Welsh proposal estimates that it can be done for "free" with donated materials and labor.

                       Installing an "unblockable" drain cover would cost the Village an estimated $8,000 (without contingency) as opposed to $4,135.48 as estimated in the Welsh proposal.

     Your group has shown skill and ability in their desire to restore the pool. They have a proven record as fundraisers that is to be admired. However, the emerging reality is that in the next few years the Village will have many calls for funding of infrasture maintenance and improvement projects. It is also known that finances for the Village will become increasingly more difficult as the impact of the 2% tax cap is fully felt.

     Given these realities and the welling up of support from a segment of the Village and the Town, I will ask for the following resolution in the next meeting of the Village Board:

Be it resolved-

        That the Trustees of the Village of LeRoy declare the pools and associated buildings surplus.

        That the Trustees sell the pool and related buildings to a new entity such as "LeRoy Pool, LLC" for $1. The Village would retain the right to purchase the facilities for $1 should "LeRoy Pool, LLC" decide to sell all or part of the facilities.

         That the Trustees lease a plot of land that encompasses the pools and related buildings to "LeRoy Pool, LLC" for ninety nine years (or other appropriate period) for $1. We avoid the cumbersome New York State process of turning public parkland into private land by this lease.

         That in its annual budget the Village will provide a payment for services rendered to the citizens of the Village of LeRoy. A starting amoung for the 2012-2013 and the next four budget years is suggested to be $11,000. This more than covers the Village's non personnel costs based on the last years of operation.

     This is the best possible outcome-the formalized "LeRoy Pool, LLC" can continue to take advantage of low cost repairs and fund raising from the willing. The Village has a budget item that would experience little volatility-very helpful in the 2% tax cap era, and takes the Village out of the pool business. Apparently the Town has indicated a willingness to financially support the pool as it has in the past. Together the Village, Town, user fees and fund raising provide a strong base of operations. After the above resolution has been passed by the Village Board, representatives from Village and the "LeRoy Pool, LLC" can meet to formalize the agreement.

     Hopefully this note expresses the intent and spirit of our meeting.

     Best Wishes,

            George E. D. Brady, Mayor

            The Village of LeRoy


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