(By Jared Arnold/Chewelah Independent)
Chewelah City Pool was last operational in 2012…
The Chewelah City Council voted last Wednesday to allow mayoral candidate Bob Belknap and his team 30 days to inspect the shuttered swimming pool and determine if it can be rehabilitated. Belknap took an interest in the pool after the council, last month, talked about demolishing it and declaring the property as surplus.
Belknap had originally asked the council for 90 days to evaluate the pool and prepare a report.
“I’m here today to ask a favor,” he said. “I’d like ninety days and access to the pool – free and unencumbered access to the pool – for that ninety days. The reason being, I think that the decision to get rid of the pool was made at a time when [the administration] wanted to get rid of the pool. They thought it was too expensive. But there are new technologies and new ways of dealing with items like that. I think I have some experts that can come in and take a look and, over that ninety days, prepare a report for you that will show that the pool is reclaimable. I would like you to consider not going ahead with demolishing the pool.”
The pool was last operated in 2012 after a $22,000 donation was made by Chamber of Commerce members. The city made the decision to close the facility the next season after a finding by the state auditor that disallowed the transfer of surplus funds from the electric department to the city’s general fund. That extra money had been used to operate the pool, among other things. Additionally, city crews believed there was substantial water and chemicals leaking under the pool’s concrete surface.
A citizen advisory committee in 2013, led by then-councilwoman Dorothy Knauss, asked Pool World of Spokane to evaluate the condition of the facility and prepare a estimate of the cost to repair the problems and necessary mechanical upgrades. Their report showed that the shell of the pool was in ‘sound’ condition but the cost to replace the piping system, upgrade the mechanical systems, and paint the pool would be nearly $400,000.
Councilwoman Nupp noted that she had heard rumors suggesting that the pool property would be surplused and sold to PACA for a future parking lot. Councilwoman Ludwig, who also sits on the PACA board of directors, said that the group would like to buy the property but does not have enough money. Mayor Dorothy Knauss assured Nupp that, if the council decided to sell the property, it would be sold to the highest bidder.
After some discussion, councilman Payton Norvell suggested that they give Belknap the access he requested, but on a shortened 30 day timeline. Nupp made the motion and the council voted 5-1 in favor of giving interested parties a 30 day opportunity to evaluate the condition of the pool. Councilman John May voted against the idea and councilwoman Roberta McMillin was absent.
Public hearing for transportation program
A public hearing was held to consider comments on the city’s Six Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
The TIP is a short-range plan required by Washington State Department of Transportation that is updated annually and shows the sources and amount of funding for transportation projects planned for the next six years.
The city’s plan, which covers years 2018 to 2023, outlines 17 projects totaling $16.8 million including: Ehorn Lane reconstruction; Lincoln Ave. sidewalk upgrades; S. Park St. sidewalks; Lincoln Ave. resurfacing; W. Main Ave. sidewalks; Park St./Hwy 395 center turn lane creation; N. 1st St. West resurface; N. 4th St. East construction; N. 6th St. East reconstruction; Traffic round-about at intersection of Hwy 395 and Sand Canyon Rd.; W. Clay Ave. reconstruction; N. 3rd St. West reconstruction; Robert Ave. reconstruction; S. 4th St. West reconstruction; pedestrian path along Chewelah Creek from Jenne Memorial Park to City Hall; and various chip sealing projects.
The only public testimony given was from Tamara Bowman, representing the Chewelah Little League program, with concerns about how the proposed pedestrian path along Chewelah Creek would affect the outfield fence which is situated very close to the creek. City Administrator Mike Frizzell assured Bowman that the path would not jeopardize the baseball field, noting that ecology and wildlife officials would not allow a path in that area. He said the path would likely need to be routed somewhere else. He also noted that the TIP is merely a ‘wish list’ of projects that the city would like to do and that only three of those — Ehorn Lane, Lincoln Ave. sidewalks, and S. Park St. sidewalks — have been funded for construction.
Movies in the Park
The council unanimously gave the go-ahead to Chewelah’s Sky Maverick to begin showing Disney movies in the park for children starting Wednesday evening, June 21. Maverick has already purchased a 150-inch screen and projector and will be showing the movies on CenterStage. He said he will be starting with a concert at 5 p.m. featuring kid-friendly music like Kidz Bop, then show a few cartoons followed by the feature movie at dark. Maverick is still working out the licensing details but hopes to be able to offer the weekly movies free of charge through the summer.
Baumann Bros. awarded sidewalk job
Baumann Bros. construction company of Chewelah was officially awarded the S. Park St. sidewalk project. Their $187,270 bid was the lowest of two bids and came in well under the engineer’s estimate of $209,300. The project, scheduled to begin in late July or August, will install new sidewalks on S. Park St./HWY 395. On the east side of the street, new sidewalk will be installed from King Ave. to the old McDonald’s restaurant site. On the west side, the sidewalk will extend from King Ave. to Robert Ave. near Hartill’s Mountain Saw and Tractor. The other bid was made by W.M. Winkler Co. for $294,921.
In other business, the council heard a presentation by Evan Schalock of the Chewelah Chamber of Commerce detailing the latest activities by the Chamber. He said that the group had worked with the city to get flowers planted on Main Ave. and Park St. and that volunteers would be watering the flowers on the highway every day and fertilizing weekly. The Economic Development Committee is working on a new tourism brochure and hopes to have that project completed by July. The Chamber’s annual board elections will be happening on Friday, June 23.
James Marshall asked the council if they would reconsider a marijuana business within the city limits to take advantage of the increased tax revenue. He suggested the revenue could be used to fill some holes in the budget and get the town moving in a more ‘progressive’ manner. Although the council did not respond directly to his inquiry, Mayor Knauss asked the council to be prepared to discuss it at their next meeting.
The council’s next regular meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, June 21 and Wednesday, July 5 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers.