OCONTO – Aageson Pool won’t reopen this year, the Oconto City Council decided at a special meeting Monday night.
Officials cited the continuing concern about following COVID-19 safety protocols as well as a need for more extensive repairs that originally planned.
“We put a band-aid on there every year because they don’t have enough time to fix the pool right,” councilmember John Reed told the roughly 40 citizens attending the session. “If we keep putting a band-aid on there, it’s going to close down.”
Park, Recreation & Forestry Director John Bostedt raised the possibility of using this year’s budget to replace the entire tiled top edge of the pool with new material.
A company was scheduled to arrive in mid-to late June to repair several sections of the tile. Since the pool was re-opened in 2015 after being closed for three years, tiles have had to be replaced because they loosened as at the concrete base deteriorated.
Every year, more sections of tiles had to be replaced, which last year cost around $4,500, he said.
The work is typically done in early May, but Bostedt didn’t arrange for it earlier in the spring as he was operating under the assumption that the pool would not open because of COVID.
“If the state would have said in March ‘yes you can open the pool, we’ll get you the guidelines, and you can open it,’ we could have hired people (staff) and arranged for the work,” said councilmember Al clerk. “It didn’t happen. Hindsight’s always 20-20.”
While the public will miss out on the pool, Schreiber added, “sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.”
Bostedt said after the meeting he will now ask the pool repair company for options for replacing the tile permanently.
The council has been wrangling with the pool issue for the past month, after voting at the April 20 meeting not to open the facility. That was the recommendation of the Park & Recreation Committee, which met on April 14.
At both sessions, members agreed it was too costly to adhere to the restrictions set forth by the CDC. It would have cost about $20,000 to hire four people to monitor social distancing and regularly sanitize surfaces.
At the May 4 Committee of the Whole meeting, several citizens said they spoke with state officials and said those restrictions were more guidelines and that the city had some flexibility. Bostedt said the state inspector suggested as much in a call, after previously recommending the city follow the rules as closely as possible.
A week later at the city council meeting, at least two council members expressed support for opening the pool. However, Bostedt said it would be late June or early July before the pool could open, as the repair crew wasn’t coming for another five to six weeks. Also, City Administrator Sara Perrizo expressed concerns that there may not be enough lifeguards available by that time, as most would have found other work by then.
Other council members recommended that the matter be referred back to the Park & Recreation Committee, which was meeting two nights later. Three council members — Jean Feldt, Kim Bronikowski and Dean Reed — also attended.
“It’s unfortunate and sad this had to happen this way,” Feldt said. “On the bright side, we will be able to repair so it lasts another 50 years.”
Feldt noted that no member of the public attended the session
“What we can’t do is open that pool,” she said. “What we can do, and what (Park & Recreation Committee members) are bending over backwards to do, is plan alternative activities and working with the fire department and entire city to make it … so kids have something to do (this summer), so it’s safe and supervised.”
RELATED:Oconto council to reconsider opening pool after public outcry, despite expected monetary loses
RELATED:Oconto’s Aageson Pool opening decision delayed as staffing issues loom
RELATED:Summer bummer: Oconto pool to remain closed, city council decides
FOR MORE OCONTO COUNTY NEWS:Check out our website!
Contact Kent Tempus at (920) 431-8226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.