Winamac Community Pool Committee continues to raise funds, study options
Friday, 17 November 2017 19:23

WINAMAC - The Winamac Community Pool Committee will go forward with efforts to raise funds for a new town pool, as it was charged to do when formed two years ago - even without the support of the Winamac Town Council which was unexpectedly withdrawn last month.

That was the word from pool committee chairman Judy Heater at an informational meeting last week. The committee will also study any alternative options it may have.

The funds raised thus far for the pool project are being held through a contractual agreement with the Community Foundation of Pulaski County (CFPC) which gives the pool committee until the end of 2020 to complete the project.

The projected cost of the new pool is over $500,000. Proposed plans call for the new pool to be a depth of five-feet across and to be largely fitted into the footprint of the 50-year-old town pool, located next to the Community Wellness Center (formerly the YMCA). The old pool was closed three years ago due to its age and deteriorated condition.

The committee has raised $150,000 for the new pool. The Town of Winamac has also pledged another $150,000 for the project, which it is legally bound to pay, according to early statements by the town council's own attorney, and confirmation from the CFPC's executive director.

Additional funding was anticipated through a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. But without the town council's support, the parks and recreation board cannot apply for such grants.

Indeed, one of the questions raised at last week's informational meeting was whether the town council had thought through or realized that its withdrawal of support would jeopardize the $150,000 pledged and hamper efforts to obtain grant funding and donations.

Heater said she could not speak for other town council members. She acknowledged the council is concerned by a projected fall in expected revenues, but added she didn't understand why the council felt it had to withdraw its support of the pool project at this time, with three years remaining until the deadline.

The town council voted 3-2 Oct. 4 to cease efforts to proceed with the project until such a time town revenues can maintain a pool. Heater, a member of the council, was one of the dissenting votes.

Another concern raised at the informational meeting was what would happen to the funds raised if the pool project does not go forward.

According to the fund agreement document signed with the Community Foundation, the pool must be completed by the end of 2020. If the sponsor determines the project cannot be accomplished according to the agreement terms, the future use of the funds will be determined by the Community Foundation board.

All this information regarding the funds raised and pledged was confirmed last month after the town council's action by the Community Foundation's executive director Wendy Rose.

She said at that time, "we have been and will continue to be supportive of those who have worked so hard on this project. It's early in the game. For the many, many people who have donated to this project, I can assure you the Foundation will not act rashly."

Pool committee member Sherry O'Connor noted at last week's meeting that in the contract with the Community Foundation, if a pool is not built, the funds raised will be considered for projects that promote safety, exercise or other activity programs that will benefit children and adults.

Park board president Courtney Poor attended the informational meeting and offered the suggestion to raise funds for the pool's operation and maintenance first - a major concern of the town council - and then focus on funds to build the pool. He feels this would send a message to the council that the pool committee is addressing an issue that worries the council most.

In fact, from its beginning Heater and other pool committee members have acknowledged the need to continue their fundraising efforts after the pool is constructed to help with future maintenance.

Several of those attending the meeting asked about other entities in the community being brought into the project, such as the school and/or hospital. Heater has met with both institutions and others in the past and will keep communications and options open for any possible partnerships.

"We still want a pool, and we will not give up on that idea," she said.

For now, the only deadline for the Community Foundation pool funds is to have the pool constructed by the end of December 2020. The parks board will appear at the Nov. 21 Community Foundation board meeting for a status update.

Heater and the pool committee plan to keep raising money for the project. She noted the pool committee has worked to keep its efforts positive and upbeat, and the response has been supportive.

Donations will continue to be accepted for the project and may be directed to the Community Foundation of Pulaski County at P.O. Box 407, 127 E. Pearl St., Winamac. Visit pulaskiccf.org for more information.

 

By Karen Clem Fritz