Ironton pool may close this weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2004

Summer may end a little early this year at Ironton's Mitch Morgan Municipal Pool because the facility continues to lose water and money.

Originally planned to stay open during the week until school starts Aug. 18 and on weekends until Labor Day, the future of the pool will be discussed at the Ironton City Council's parks and recreation committee meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday. A special council meeting will follow at 6 p.m.

Pool manager Ron Reed, an Ohio University Southern adjunct professor, emphasized Wednesday that the biggest problem is that the pool is losing nearly 500,000 gallons of water per week and using 500 gallons of chlorine, costing the city approximately $500 a week in the chemicals alone.

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In part because the cracks and water loss appear to be getting worse, Reed said he believes it would be best for the future of the pool to close this Sunday.

"I think the city should, No. 1, find out where the problem is," Reed said. "They better do it now instead of waiting until next spring."

Mayor John Elam agrees that the best option may be to shut the pool down now so the city does not "continue pouring water down a hole."

"There is 60,000 gallons of water going somewhere on a daily basis," Elam said. "It is my intent to shut the pool down early so we don't have (a worse) problem that we will have to address."

Elam said he believes that money saved could pay for repairs to the


This problem came on the heels of an issue regarding the contract, though Elam said this was a non-factor in his decision to close early.

In June, city council awarded a contract to Reed, doing business as R Squared, but Reed did not sign the agreement. He proposed an amended contract to council about a month later, but the elected officials declined to approve it last week because of a few concerns.

Points of debate include a clause stating that the city would be responsible to maintain the grounds and that Reed would provide night-time security, something that he said would be financially impossible.

"I just did all this on good faith," Reed said of his motivation to operate without a contract. "If someone didn't open the pool, it wouldn't open at all."

Though he says profit is not a primary consideration, it is a factor as he continues to lose money. In the first month, he lost $75 and that does not include his liability insurance and the fact that he is having to work as many as 10 hours a day, he said.

"The goal was to break even and provide a place for the kids to have fun and swim in a safe environmental," he said.

Right now, Reed said even breaking would be optimistic.