SYRACUSE — Residents of the Village of Syracuse had the opportunity to express their ideas and concerns regarding the London Pool during the council meeting on Thursday evening.
Betty Hoschar, a Syracuse resident since the mid-1990s, spoke to council and other residents about the pool’s finances and options for opening the attraction again.
According to information provided by Fiscal Officer Crystal Cottrill, the pool expenses from 2013 to 2017 averaged $48,126.75 annually. In the same years, the actual revenue from pool operations averaged $24,966.04. The revenue was then supplemented by funds from the summer youth program, donations and transfers from the general fund (between $8,000 and $14,000 annually) to keep the pool fund with a positive balance.
“The village accepts that London Pool is not a self-sustaining enterprise. … Unfortunately, abysmal tax collection rates and lower disbursements from both the federal and state governments mean this is not sustainable. The general fund is being depleted , and can not continue to transfer such large amounts into the pool fund to keep it afloat,” read the information sheet provided by Cottrill.
The structural issue with the London Pool is the surface has cracked away and sunk in spots. The village hasn’t been able to complete the pressure test to check for leaks in the water lines. Mayor Eric Cunningham said Patterson Pools from Plain City is scheduled to come to look at the pool. Until the tests are complete, an estimated cost cannot be given.
Council allowed residents to ask questions and voice their concerns during the meeting. One resident said if the finances do not break even, the pool is not worth fixing. Most of the residents, however, are willing to fight to open the pool.
Hoschar said she is concerned that children are going to get into trouble by having nothing to do within the village.
Another resident said she feels the council members are negative toward the pool. She wanted reassurance that if the money was raised, the village would open the London Pool. Council voted unanimously that if the a group raises enough money to fix the pool, they will re-open it.
Hoschar is creating a “steering committee” for other residents to join to help re-open the pool. This committee will be in charge of raising funds and working with council to stay updated on testing and progress.
The “Syracuse Pool Fundraising” Facebook page has been created as part of the committee. According to the page, the first meeting for the committee will be this Thursday at 7 p.m. at the pool.
Also present at the meeting was the village’s insurance agent, Ray McComas. Council approved to renew their insurance plan with the Ohio Plan for public unities. The village will have to pay $14,274 yearly for two years until the next renewal.
Grants Administrator Fred Hoffman updated council about recent grants he has applied for. The village was awarded $62,000 through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to improve fire hydrants and add concrete around them. The Meigs County Commissioners gave the project to D.V. Weber with a bid of just under $50,000. Hoffman contacted Dave Weber and requested using the extra grant money for another hydrant and/or concrete around the new hydrants. The email reply from the county grant administrator, Betsy Entsminger, was to contact her instead of Weber for questions about the project. Entsminger’s email reply stated, “We are not approving changes to the Syracuse project at this time.”
Council approved Hoffman to apply for a grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission for paving in 2020.
Fire Chief Bill Roush asked council to approved three new applicants to join the fire department. Council approved Rick Parsons, Kenny Clark and Gilbert McClain as new firefighters.
Council approved Roush to purchase new flashlights for the department totally around $650. They also approved Roush to purchase a siren speaker for one of the trucks. There was no price given. Council approved to pay $550 to buy dinner at the County Firemen’s Association meeting on June 25.
Council accepted a bit from Andrew Evans of $530 for the utility trailer.
In the Councilmember updates,
– Councilmember Barry McCoy brought up concerns about people turning their dogs out at night without a leash. Mayor Cunningham reminded those present that dogs are supposed to be on a leash when not on the owners property and to call the dog warden if they have concerns. Councilmember Tom Weaver asked if a sign could be placed at the community center reminding people of the leash law.
– McCoy also brought up concerns about people blowing grass clippings onto the roadway. Council is considering writing an ordinance to make it illegal to blow grass on the road.
– Councilmember David Poole asked other councilmembers what they think about increasing the sick time cap for employees. Currently the time caps at 40 hours, which Poole thinks is too few. Other councilmembers and the mayor think this is a reasonable amount.
– Councilmember Tom Weaver said the police department is making positive impacts by patrolling for speed in certain areas.
-Councilmember Rhonda Rathburn thanked Mayor Cunningham for mowing grass for people who were unable to.
-Councilmember Maria Schaefer asked for signs alerting people of children playing on Rose Valley because people are speeding on the road.
– Schaefer also asked what could be done about golf carts traveling on the walking path. Schaefer asked for Streets Commissioner Dustin Butcher to trim tree limbs handing on the walking path.
In her report to council, Fiscal Officer Crystal Cottrill scheduled a budget hearing open to the public for July 11 at 6:30 p.m. before the regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m.
Kayla Hawthorne is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.