BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- It was the end of an era in Belleville Monday night. For the first time since the 40`s, there will be a summer without a public swimming pool.
There were a few, last, impassioned pleas to save the pool at the City Council meeting. Still, the council voted 11-4 to shut it down.
The swimming hole that opened as a pond for swimming then became the pool most remembered as Turner Pool , will not be opening this Memorial Day weekend.
An older man, who now lives in troy, who swam in the pool in bygone days, even came to offer seed money for a "save the pool" fund.
It was too little too late.
The mayor primarily blamed years of wear and tear saying the plumbing was likely to burst once the water lines were pressurized; the concrete had become thin and brittle; the bath house would also need upgrades to meet requirements for the disabled.
He said the estimated $60,000 cost, was a low-end, conservative estimate, which would only serve as a band-aid until next year; the city had poured more than $100,000 into the pool in recent years; it had been a drain on the city budget, losing $50,000 last year.
Still, there were those who saw the pool as a vital service, like street lights and sewers.
'It`s going to kind of stink, maybe not so much for me because I can do somewhere else and swim. There`s a lot of kids that don`t have the opportunity; they don`t have the money to go, their parents, you know - it just kind of stinks,' said Matthew Denison, of Belleville, who swam at the pool like his parents, then became a lifeguard and swimming lessons instructor.
'Yeah, it`s going to be a money loser, you`re never going to make money on a municipal pool, but we have a lot of children in the community that do not have the economic wherewithal to go to a private pool ,' said Belleville resident, Will Viall. 'You know, do something to keep them out of trouble...I think $60,000 is a pretty cheap price to maybe save one kid.'
'If it makes money, ok, if doesn't make money, close it, simple as that,' another resident told the council.
'This hurts me very much,' Mayor Mark Eckert said. 'But the problem of it is, the pipe structure of the pool is very old and brittle. The tank can no longer be sand blasted because the rebar's starting to come through.'
The mayor said the actual long term cost of keeping the pool open would be closer to a half-million dollars. He said he was already having discussions with possible partners like Lindenwood University and the YMCA, to make sure kids in Belleville have a place to swim this summer.
Cost estimates for a new pool/waterpark in Belleville ranged from $2 million - $3 million.
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