Carbon county residents have been enjoying the Helper pool for over 65 years. Many of us, who have fond memories of swimming at the Helper pool, are now continuing that tradition and bringing our children, some their grandchildren, to swim. Jodi Mascaro has been managing the Helper Pool for 10 years and considering the lack of funding, has done the best job possible. The pool is antiquated and in need of repair, but our pool water has always been clean and we as pool goers have felt that it is a safe place for families to play and cool off.
Jodi met with Bob Farrell, the councilman overseeing the pool, a couple of weeks ago to look over the pool conditions in preparation for the upcoming swim season. Mr. Farrell informed Jody about his intention to propose closing the pool and said he would start the ball rolling on repairs. Those who have consistently used the pool, frantically gathered together as many pool supporters as possible to attend the Helper City Council meeting on April 15.
As the meeting started, Mayor Bonacci informed all those in attendance that we must raise our hands before speaking during discussions. The swimming pool discussion was number 12 on the agenda and, although six to eight people had their hands raised Mayor Bonacci precluded further discussion by evoking the council members vote after only two residents had spoken. The vote to close the pool was three to two in favor of closure. Had the council members heard from those who still had comments to offer, the vote may have had different results.
Mr. Farrell stated the he was going to attempt to find funding to either refurbish or replace the pool, but that it would probably take a couple of years. We as pool supporters know, the pool is in need of repairs and are glad to hear that Mr. Farrell has expressed willingness to research sources of funding on the pool's behalf. In the interim, we as Helper pool advocates, are unsure as to why the council members are unwilling to make a few minor repairs to the pool in order to keep it open while we are awaiting funding.
At the council meeting, Mr. Farrell explained that he still had insurance money received after the hailstorm of 2002 damaged the roof and the gutter grates, two of the things he said needed repair. The dressing room stalls are also in disrepair, but there are virtually new stalls being stored in the pool shed that were donated to the pool when Willow Creek Mine closed and are just waiting to be installed.
Many citizens at the council meeting offered to help raise funds to help make the repairs, but the offer seemed to fall on deaf ears. A comment about a "dead horse" was made referring to the pool. To those of us who faithfully use and enjoy the pool, it is not a dead horse, but an institution that is worth the effort to keep open until we can get funding. Not only is the pool worth it, our kids are worth it as well. Without the pool, Helper kids are left with nothing as our park's playground equipment are in worse shape than the pool.
We understand that Helper City is in need of revenue, but with the pool closed, those who enjoy swimming will be taking their revenue to Price. Our councilmen made it perfectly clear that Helper City has an extremely tight budget, but we are aware that Helper City owns an $87,000+ street sweeper and many late model city vehicles. Perhaps Helper City residents would rather have less money spent on equipment and more money spent on public facilities.
Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Farrell was discussing the many phone calls he had received from concerned citizens and how when they questioned his plans to propose closure to the council he conceded. Mayor Bonacci then laughed as he said "and this is why all these people are here." We wonder if some didn't like the fact that Mr. Farrell shared his thoughts and would have preferred keeping Helper City residents in the dark until June when we realized the pool wasn't opening and it was too late to do anything. This, in combination with the fact that we had such little notice to gather people and information and were in our estimation not given ample speaking opportunity before the vote was made, leaves us frustrated and perhaps suspicious about how and why the decision to close the pool was made.
Approximately 15-20 people signed up to be on a committee to try to expedite the process of refurbishing or reopening the pool. We are currently sending around a petition to inform residents and to gather names of those in support of keeping the pool open to show our mayor and council members that we are serious and are willing to go the distance.