The Blackfoot City Pool. Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
BLACKFOOT â Third timeâs the charm for the Blackfoot city Pool â at least thatâs what the majority of the City Council is hoping for as theyâve voted to put another bond on the ballot.
âItâs not going to be as extensive of a remodel as what was going to be,â City Councilman Chris Jensen said. âIâm glad that the council members feel like we need to give this one more try.â
In 2017, a $5 million dollar bond was on the ballot twice â once in May and the other November. The bond failed both times. In May it failed to reach the supermajority (66.7 percent) by 15 votes. In November the bond needed 66.7 percent to pass and received just 61.15 percent. 1,163 votes were in favor and 739 people voted against the bond.
In June, the city council proposed a $1.9 million âno frillsâ bond that would go toward fixing maintenance and structural issues the pool is facing. The city council decided the revisit the issue July 17.
Last week the council scrapped the $1.9 million and ended up voting 3-1 to have a $3.7 million bond on the ballot.
âItâll bring the building back to âlike-newâ condition. Itâll upgrade existing but it wonât add new features,â Jensen said.
Jensen, whoâs an advocate for the 45-year-old pool, said if Blackfoot loses this facility, itâs unlikely itâll get another one.
âIt was really the first enclosed pool in the area and it is used a lot,â Jensen said.
He said to build a new pool would cost about $10 million â around three times more than the amount of the repair costs. Jensen said if people arenât willing to repair what theyâve got, he doubts theyâll be willing to put in the funds to do a full upgrade at a later time.
Badly damaged insulation from the Blackfoot pool | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
He said heâs seen a lot of scouts, swimmers, and older patrons in the community utilize the facility. Jensen said itâs also an asset to the city for prospective businesses as they see there are recreational facilities for the citizens.
City Councilwoman Jan Simpson feels the city is better off without the pool, especially because of the state of the townâs budget. She was the only one who voted against the $3.7 million bond.
âI just donât feel like we need to be putting a third-time bond out for the people if theyâve already denied it twice,â Simpson said.
In a November 2017 story, Jensen said the first bond would have included a splash pad for kids, new insulation, new windows, renovated locker rooms, a new concrete pool with five lanes suitable for swim meets, and a zero-entry feature helpful for people with disabilities or who are in wheelchairs.
Simpson said the lowered bond wouldnât include any provisions for heat conservation in the winter, or remodeling of the front entrance, bathroom and changing rooms.
âI think the pool needs to be closed. Even if the bond passed the $3.7 million, we donât really have money in the budget to maintain the pool properly,â Simpson said.
She said pools typically donât pay for themselves and feels like the city has subsidized it too much with an annual $200,000 subsidy. The pools budget, however, has been cut by $43,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.
âWe just donât have the money to put into a dying facility,â Simpson said. âIt wonât even go to the ballot until May.â
She said the city will have to worry about keeping the pool open for the time being as the city council also approved the pool to be funded until September 2019. The $3.7 million bond goes to the ballot in May 2019.