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By Ed Moreth 

Plains City Council discusses pool repairs

 

August 16, 2018



The swimming pool season in Plains is over as of Saturday, the last day for people to take a cool dip until next year, yet the 2019 pool opening is questionable.

Recently, the pool has been operating without a heater. The Public Works Department staff replaced a boiler part in June, but it failed again. At the town council meeting on Monday, Mayor Dan Rowan said the problem could be the computer board, which will cost $1,000. In addition, the pool has one or more leaks, which accounts for a loss of about 15,000 gallons of water every day. A representative from a Kalispell engineering firm is scheduled to make an on-site evaluation of the problem.

One possibility is to keep the pool closed next year and utilize the money that would be spent on maintenance and salaries to pay for repairs. Half of the annual pool cost goes to pay for wages of the nine staffers. One way to cut costs, according to the mayor, would be to eliminate the pool manager position and use a town clerk to fill in.

Rowan also wondered about placing some type of concrete pool covers around the pool, so that when there’s a leak, a cover could simply be lifted up, rather than tearing up the concrete, which is a costly part of repairing even a minor leak.

The pool leak is partly responsible for the overall town water loss. The mayor said the town last month sold nearly 8 million gallons of water, but pumped just over 11 million gallons. However, it’s not all lost water. Water used at City Hall, other town-owned buildings, the pool, and irrigation for the parks and the greenway are not metered.

The pool is not a profit-maker for the town, but Rowan believes it’s important to the community and doesn’t want to see it closed. Council member Sandy Chenoweth said at the meeting that they might have to raise prices next year. She checked with other communities with pools and all were higher than Plains.

It looks as though the pool of water that normally fills Farmer Street is gone for good, the result of the drainage system installation by Traver’s Excavators Service, Inc., of Thompson Falls. It was reported that after a heavy rain two weeks ago, there were only small puddles present.

The town continues to receive bids to repave Farmer Street. Rowan hopes to have the work done this month. He plans to save some $15,000 by having Public Works Department staff take up the old asphalt. The project might cost an estimated $40,000 or more, according to Rowan. The town has received only one bid for the chip seal project of Ryan and Boyer Streets and Central Avenue.

Town officials are having other problems with streets. An estimated 50 vehicles are illegally parking along the town roadway easements, in some places narrowing the traffic to one lane. Larger cities have wider streets that can accommodate roadside parking, but Plains’ streets are narrow. Rowan said that in the old part of town the width of the pavement is only 20-22 feet wide and in the newer areas, the streets have about 24 feet of pavement. Residents have been notified and if they do not comply, can face a fine.

“I’m worried about children darting out between parked vehicles and there’s not enough visibility or maneuvering room to avoid them,” said Rowan. Council member Chad Cantrell was concerned about enough room for emergency services vehicles to get through if people are causing a bottleneck with parked vehicles.

The town’s Decay Ordinance is only a month old and council members are already seeing people cleaning up yards. The mayor said that at least two fences are going up. The police chief and fire chief are responding to the first official Decay Ordinance complaint, although the mayor said there have been three other verbal inquiries.

The council is working on a preliminary budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and plan to finalize it over the next month. The town is operating off a preliminary budget, which totals $1,579,149, but Rowan said there are likely to be amendments before it’s finalized.

The police department had the biggest chunk of money at $296,960, only $80,500 more than last year. It includes the purchase of two new police cars, priced at just over $80,000. A federal grant paid $50,000.

The town is also using the interim budget to replace two 16-year-old lift station pumps at a cost of about $31,000. Though the Gorman Rupp pumps are $5,000 more than another company, the town has had a history with Gorman Rupp and a good service rapport with the company, according to Rowan. The town allotted $76,750, the same as the previous year, for the sewage treatment plant.

The town has budgeted $160,626 for roads and streets services, which includes the $50,000 District Road Tax.

 

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