The Smithville Municipal Pool may open as early as next week.
The aldermen Monday night, at the request of golf course tenant Tony Poss, voted to amend his lease giving him the discretion to open the pool sooner than the contract calls for in the spring and to close it later in the summer, depending upon the weather. The original lease specifies that the pool is to open Memorial Day and to remain open until the beginning of school. Poss said he would like to open the pool by late next week. "We've had an unusually warm spring and we've had calls after calls wanting to use the pool and we're losing people who are going out of town because we can't let them in the pool. The pool is ready, the permits are paid and the lifeguards are certified. We're looking at opening around the 18th or 19th of May. We're waiting for school to get out," said Poss.
Alderman Gayla Hendrix said she thought opening the pool sooner is a good idea, given the warmer weather this spring. " I think we should amend that lease to just state at the lessee's discretion to open the pool and close the pool upon weather permitting. This has been an unusual spring. Usually its not warm enough to open the pool until Memorial Day, but it is warm enough now and kids are getting out of school soon. Even if you opened it temporarily on weekends only til Memorial Day all its going to do is generate revenue. To me it only makes sense, if you've got everything ready to go," she said.
The aldermen also approved Poss's request to amend the lease to allow him to book pool parties after hours, at no extra expense to the city. The city is responsible for paying wages of lifeguards during all hours of pool operation, but the city legally can't bear that cost for private pool parties. Poss said he would assume the cost of hiring lifeguards for pool parties after hours and that would solve the problem. "I've checked with insurance and it pretty much covers anything we do over there. It wouldn't cost the city anything. We'll pay them (lifeguards) for those private parties. Its something we're missing out on. We've had I'll bet ten calls this weekend and if we don't accommodate these people, they're just going out of town. We could keep people here in town. We'll be open til 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. and have parties after that, maybe until 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m." said Poss.
The aldermen further voted, at Poss's request, to have some work done at the clubhouse bathroom facilities to make them more handicapped accessible. "We need to know when the city is going to get the bathrooms and pool facilities up to ADA standards. We have a deadline this month of May 21 but as of today (Monday) we're still not compliant with those laws," said Poss.
We've been up here several times (to the city council meetings) about the 2012 ADA standards. I think the board voted a couple of months ago to research this and see what the best option is to update the bathrooms and showers to make them handicapped accessible. As of today, nothing has been done. I just don't want this to be a liability on the city's part or our part. I called the ADA Thursday and from what I've been told, they say anything that is accessible to the public has to meet ADA standards. It doesn't matter when it's built," said Poss.
Mayor Taft Hendrixson said while some work has already been done at the clubhouse bathrooms to make them more accessible, a complete renovation is not necessary. The city has also ordered a portable lift chair for handicapped users to get in and out of the swimming pool. "We have researched that. The (handicapped) lift (for the pool) is on back order and I'm not sure when it will be here but it shouldn't be long. As far as the restrooms, bringing them up to ADA standards, we don't have to do anything. Existing buildings before 1990, you don't have to redo them unless you are reconstructing or remodeling, tearing out and redoing, then you have to bring them to ADA standards. We have taken out partial walls so the (women's) bathroom is accessible with a wheel chair. The men's bathroom was already (accessible). But as far as the latrine being a certain height, we don't have to do that," said Mayor Hendrixson.
Alderman Hendrix suggested that the city go ahead and make whatever changes are needed. "When this was brought to us a month or so ago, things like making the sink a certain height and the urinals a certain height, it didn't seem like it was going to be a big ordeal and it sounded like city employees had the capability of doing these things. If its not a big ordeal or big expense and it will make it more accessible to people, what's the draw back in doing it? Actually I thought we already agreed to do it," said Alderman Hendrix.
Alderman Danny Washer agreed. "Lets fix what needs to be fixed. It won't cost the city a lot of money," he said.
Mayor Hendrixson said the work would begin possibly this week. City building codes inspector Eugene O'Neal will be consulted to get his input on whatever further renovations should be made.
Fire Chief Charlie Parker announced that a bid opening on the purchase of a ladder truck is set for Friday, May 11 at 2:00 p.m. at city hall. He said bids will be reviewed on Friday and brought to the next city council meeting on May 21.
Chief Parker said he is also working with City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson and the Municipal Technical Advisory Services (MTAS) to get advice on the best way to go about replacing the fire department's turnout gear, by coming up with the best means of bidding those items for purchase.
Meanwhile, in his monthly fire report, Chief Parker said during the last month the department responded to one grass fire, one dumpster fire, a landing zone, one structure fire, and one training.
Police Chief Randy Caplinger said he recently applied for and the city has been approved for a BURNS grant. It is a non-matching grant at no cost to the city. "We have been approved for a $12,061 grant, subject to board approval. Its free money for the department to buy equipment. We've looked at new shotguns for the patrol cars and some other equipment that we need for the department. With board approval, we'll go forward," said Chief Caplinger.
The aldermen voted to accept the grant.
Chief Caplinger also announced that the police department has received two humvees at no cost to the city. "One of them has 22,000 miles on it and the other has 27,000 miles. They haven't been used that much. We received those through the military. I actually applied for four, hoping to get one but we were lucky and got two. There were 450 of them and they were gone in less than twelve hours. I'm glad we got them. The only cost to the city was going down and driving them back from Montgomery, Alabama. We are looking at painting them black and using them in emergency situations, whether it be drug operations, inclement weather such as street flooding or snows, helping stranded motorists. They can go into areas where we might not be able to get to in a four wheel drive truck or a patrol car. They can be used for tactical operations, transporting officers to the scene of a crime. We can do whatever we decide we want to do with them," said Chief Caplinger
Water Plant operator Todd Bowman reported that the water treatment plant, during the month of March " treated 48-million 900-thousand gallons of water. We used 200,000 gallons for backwash and 125,000 gallons to re-wash. To drain the basin was 710,000 gallons. We used 276,000 gallons at the plant and we also did a system wide flush during the month of March. We used 625,000 gallons there. So we left the plant with 46.9 million gallons. We sold 35.6 million gallons which left a total unaccounted for of 11.3 million gallons which is a 24% water loss," said Bowman.