Whitesburg KY
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W’burg council votes to rescue swimming pool

The Whitesburg City Council has taken action to “save” the city’s municipal swimming pool.

At a special meeting of the city council held late last week, the council voted unanimously to approve amending the city’s budget to allow for the purchase of more than $14,000 in concrete and related supplies to repair damaged areas of pool. The action was taken after Whitesburg Mayor Tiffany Craft told the council the pool has suffered damage that, if not fixed now, could worsen in the winter months and render the pool irreparable in the near future.

“There are repairs that need to be made right now in order for it to be saved,” Craft said.

City employee and carpenter Allen Ross told Craft and the council that the gunite — a blend of cement, sand and water which makes up the walls and bottom of the pool — is “coming loose” and that tile installed around the pool is beginning to fall off. Craft told the council that the tile that is falling off is new and should not yet have been installed.

Craft indicated that taking action now would allow the council to make a decision later on the pool’s ultimate fate, as more extensive repairs would likely be needed. She indicated that the city should protect the investment it has already made in not only the pool, but the proposed “splashpad” project at the pool complex.

“I would hate to throw away the money that we’ve already invested in it,” she said. “This started out as a splashpad project, but ultimately ended up being a swimming pool rehab which was not what was intended, and that is why we are in the shape we are in now.”

Craft said Whitesburg is currently “in the hole” in regard to grant funds the city received to construct the proposed splashpad because of pool-related repairs. She said, however, that the city is committed to completing the splashpad project.

“We want to continue with the splashpad,” she said. “We don’t want to lose anything that has been done with that splashpad. That’s the sole purpose of what we’re doing. We did not know that it was going to end up being as extensive as it is.”

Craft said making the repairs to the pool will buy the city “a little bit of time.”

In other business at the special meeting, the council indicated it would work to reduce the cost of contract labor on the city.

Craft said several sealed bids from prospective contract laborers for various projects had been received by the city and those would be open at an upcoming meeting. The issue with contract laborers, Craft said, is that the city is currently paying some laborers to work approximately 40 hours per week at upward of $45 per hour.

Council member Derek Barto questioned why those contract labor positions could not be replaced with an employee working directly for the city at a lower rate rather than essentially having a full-time contract laborer.

Mayor Craft agreed, saying, “What we’re paying is not feasible.”

The council took no direct action on the contract laborer discussion, but Craft said projects which can be completed by city employees should now be completed by those on the city payroll and contract laborers should only be used when necessary.

“I want everyone to enjoy their job, we just have to do it the right way,” Craft said.

No other items were discussed at the special meeting.

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