Pool survey in the works

by nathan oster

The Greybull Town Council is going to survey its residents about their feelings about a potential outdoor swimming pool before committing the time and expense that will be required to get the issue put on the ballot.

The council agreed on Monday night to fund the survey, using George K. Baum & Company.

The consulting firm will help the town in the development of survey questions and the town will then distribute those questions to each household via a mailer. Self-addressed stamped envelopes will be provided to make it easier for residents to return the survey.

Thur said he expects the surveys to go out shortly and to have a sense, one way or the other, of the community’s level of interest within a matter of a few weeks.

While that is happening, the attorneys representing the town, Kent Richins, and Big Horn County School District No. 3, Tracy Copenhaver, have held preliminary discussions on a memorandum of agreement between the two government entities.

Calling it “a first draft,” Richins provided an overview to the council of a MOA that was developed by Barbara Bonds, who is assisting the town on the project. “Anything could change,” he said.

The main issue, up front, is when the pool question should be put to voters.

Town officials have discussed three potential dates: a special election in May, during the primary election in August or the general election in November.

“Barbara’s recommendation is August,” said Richins. “Doing it in May would be really quick, and in November, there’s the potential of meddling it with other issues. You don’t want to try to pass this with along with other types of monetary requests.”

Richins said one key point is the recent discovery that the town could own the pool from day one, even though the bond issue would be put forward by the school district. The school district could issue the bonds, without having an interest in the property.

“Basically the town would be responsible for everything with respect to the facility,” he said.

What would be required up front from the school district, he said, is for it to obtain the approval of the School Facilities Commission and to hold two separate hearings to obtain public input. At those public meetings, the school district (and town officials who attend) would be tasked with explaining the financial aspects of the project, from the election and construction to operations and maintenance.

Before it gets to that point, however, the decision must be made on whether enough public support exists to send the pool to another public vote. Richins said both he and Bonds were in agreement in recommending the survey.

The town envisions an outdoor pool, similar in size to the former indoor pool, to be constructed in the vacant lot adjacent to the Herb Asp Community Center. While Scott Mattis has consistently voted in the dissent, the rest of the council has backed the project — and in particular, the idea of the town paying operation and maintenance costs following construction.

Councilman Marvin Hunt said he planned to meet with school board members Tuesday night.