City Council Approves Pool Plan With Wording Change

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Athens City Council unanimously voted Monday to move forward with plans to build a new pool, after a change was made to the wording of the ordinance.

The ordinance authorizes up to $500,000 to be used for engineering services for the construction of a municipal pool, but now it will include “municipal pool options,” rather than restricting the ordinance to an outdoor pool.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, who proposed the amendment, said this would ensure all options are reviewed.

“Maybe someone out there has the perfect option for us,” said Fahl. “I think that would be the most democratic process to move this forward.”

Councilman Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, said the new wording “muddies the water.”

“I think there is simplicity in keeping it read as is,” said Butler.

The major concern with the new wording is how the facility will be funded if council decides on an indoor pool.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said the city would likely go run the budget at a deficit to operate an indoor pool.

“We’re talking a lot of money in the hole to keep it afloat,” said Patterson.

Patterson said that with indoor swimming options available at Ohio University, having two indoor pools in a city the size of Athens would be “unthinkable.”

However, Athens resident Karen Coschigano said OU’s open swim hours were limited.

“I do use the OU pool, and its hours are not as open as you’d think,” said Coschigano. “It’s not satisfying the needs of the community by a long shot.”

Another resident, Abe Alassaf, said he spent many years going to the outdoor pool and spoke against adding an indoor pool.

“Being a taxpayer for the city, I do not want to see my taxes go up anymore,” said Alassaf.

Council voted four to two to amend the ordinance to include the wording “municipal pool options.”

Now that the ordinance is passed, Patterson said the next step is to move forward with designs.

“To move forward with being able to look at different options that are out there is good because this has been stalling long enough,” Patterson said. “I hope, at the end of the day, the citizens of Athens are getting a good quality pool.”