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Future for Ironton#039;s public pool remains murky

Would it be throwing money down the drain - literally?

Last year, city officials closed the Mitch Morgan Municipal Pool before school even started because the pool needed repairs and because the city had no money to fix the problems. This year, the pool may not open at all for the same reason.

"Last year we opened it late and closed it early. The mayor said last year the pool was losing 60,000 gallons of water a day," city councilman Jesse Roberts said. "This year, with the way the city's money looks, I just don't see how we could have opened it. Last year we used $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant monies (to try and fix it) and I just didn't see spending $15,000 or $20,000 this year."

Knowing there was no money in municipal coffers to fix the pool, city officials two months ago opted to throw in the towel, and then toss the towel to someone else.

The Ironton City Schools deeded the pool to the city in the 1930s. A clause in the deed stipulated that if the city failed to operate the pool for two years, the deed could revert back to the school district.

The city council passed an ordinance in March to pass the pool back to the school board earlier than the 2-year time frame. Thus, the aging, ailing pool became a new worry for school officials.

Ironton City Schools Superintendent Dean Nance said the school district had not anticipated getting the pool back in its name so soon since the city was not required to hand it back for another two years, according to the terns of the deed.

Nance said he has not officially been told of the deed change by city officials.

Roberts said the mayor's office or council clerk should have informed Nance and other city school officials that the ordinance transferring the deed had been approved.

The school district is as financially ill-equipped to deal with the problem as the city is, Nance said, adding that he understands the city was only trying to balance its budget by handing the pool back to the school district. The superintendent said he is not sure what the school district is legally and financially able to do with it, either.

"We're trying to consider what is the legality of (owning) it and the feasibility of it. Can the school district even consider contracting it out? We're trying to find out if the pool was truly deeded back to the school district and what the ramifications are if we ( the city and the school district) come to an agreement."