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City park pool future debated

The centerpiece of Millwood City Park since 1954, the wading pool, may soon be a thing of the past.

During the regular Millwood City Council meeting Monday night, council members listened to several residents’ concerns over the pending removal of the park’s 57-year-old landmark.

“It’s a loaded issue,” Millwood resident Bobbie Beese said. “I think a lot of people will be very unhappy if it’s not discussed before something happens.” 

As a means to reduce its budget shortfall, the council voted during a special budget meeting held last fall to remove the wading pool from the park.  The pool is in need of repair and resurfacing, estimated to cost $15,000.

“Why the rush to take it out?” resident and Millwood business owner Connie Berland asked. “The wading pool is the main feature of the park.”

Berland suggested that rather than demolishing and removing the landmark, close the pool and post a notice stating the reason for the closure, and request input from residents on what they would like done with the pool.

“If the community is interested, then they should have a voice,” Councilman Kevin Freeman said.

Freeman pointed out that the liability and amount of insurance the city is required to carry are some of the reasons behind the potential removal.

 Mayor Dan Mork noted that the city has already received bids on removing the pool, but has not scheduled the project as of yet. The council agreed to research the matter further.

In other city news, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich presented the 2011 cost plan for law enforcement, totaling more than $235,000. 

Knezovich said the plan is a product of 18 months of work, stripping down the original budget and reallocating costs.

“This is a very detailed process,” Knezovich said. “Your law enforcement costs will go down because of these cost allocation measures we’ve taken.”

Following the contract presentation, the council unanimously adopted a resolution to adopt the Comprehensive Spokane County Emergency Management Plan introduced by Knezovich and Lisa Jameson from Spokane County’s Department of Emergency Management.

City Treasurer Debbie Matkin gave a report on the 2010 final budget highlighting a $146,899 shortfall in the general fund, along with a combined $152,820 loss in the water and sewer fund balances.

“Those three funds have been steadily declining by 40 or 50 thousand dollars a year,” Matkin said. “Every year you set the budget higher than your revenues.”

City Planner Tom Richardson credited a new accounting system purchased last year for providing a more accurate financial picture.

Matkin said the city has “taken a knife to the budget” and cut all nonessentials, including the wading pool. “We’re still going to spend reserve and that has been happening every year for the last 10 years.”

The reserve, currently $934,000, is declining.

Maintenance supervisor Cleve McCoul reported the water is still undergoing chlorination. He asked council members if they want to use chlorination as a permanent solution. The council decided to chlorinate only when the tests come back positive for coliform bacteria.