Mitch Morgan Swimming Pool to close early

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 6, 2004

Since water and money continues to go down the drain, Ironton officials are going to pull the plug on the Mitch Morgan Municipal Pool this weekend.

Discussion at Thursday's special council meeting focused on the future of the swimming pool but another water-related problem may be much more costly to fix. Though it is not as massive as the first cave-in earlier this year, another hole has opened up in the pavement on Railroad Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.

However, addressing the leaky pool was the first priority. Original plans called for the pool to stay open on weekdays until school starts Aug. 18 and on weekends until Labor Day. Now, Sunday will most likely be the final day.

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"My intent is to go ahead and close the pool this weekend," Mayor John Elam said, though he had been unable to contact the pool manager. "As of yesterday, we have lost 3,353,600 gallons of water - nearly 60,000 gallons per day."

Or in other terms, each day the pool loses enough water to fill six family-sized pools. Chemical and water loss has added up to more than $1,000 a week in expenses, Elam said.

The mayor said the city will try to go ahead and repair the pool, if it is affordable.

A more immediate, and likely far more expensive, problem will be repairing the second hole on Railroad Street that was caused by a sewer line collapse. The new hole that began approximately 12 feet beyond where previous repairs ended has expanded significantly this week.

"My perspective is, I don't think it is caused by anything the contractors did wrong," Engineer Phil Biggs said referring to the prior work. "But, it is like looking at a box and trying to figure out what is in it without opening it."

In an effort to open the "box," a consultant group will come in today with a sewer camera and vacuum truck to determine the extent of the problems and how to go about repairs.

Assessing the problem may the first step. Finding the money to fix it could be another matter entirely.

The Ohio Public Works Commission provided the city with $83,535 towards the approximately $90,000 project to repair the previous collapse. Elam hopes some additional monies will be available through the state agency. If not, some alternative plans will have to be made, he said.

"One thing we learned is that we cannot let this go," he said. "The longer it goes without immediate attention, the worse it becomes."

When asked if other areas within the city are at risk for similar collapses, Elam and Biggs both emphasized that many of the sewer lines are more than 100 years old and in need of serious attention.

"Certainly, this is the not the oldest line in the city," Elam said. "Hopefully, this will be the only one, but it is my opinion that other collapses may be imminent."

In other business, Elam informed council that Aaron Edwards, Ironton City Health Department health commissioner/registered sanitarian tendered his resignation earlier this week - effective Aug. 16.

Edwards, who was hired in June 2003 after Charlie Kouns retired, will seek other opportunities that may include a private consulting job locally or in another state, Elam said.