School, rec boards mull pool’s final act

by nathan oster

The Greybull Town Council and the Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees have settled on a date for the work session to discuss the future of the Greybull swimming pool.

At its Feb. 12 meeting, the school board set the meeting for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13 in the meeting room at Town Hall.

Mayor Bob Graham and the town council had agreed the previous night, Feb. 11, to approach the school board about setting the meeting. He told the board that the consensus — though not unanimous — opinion of the council was to try to keep the pool open through at least the end of August, which would be two months into a new fiscal year.

The pool is currently funding through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2013, but Graham suggested that the young people interested in lifeguarding may look for other jobs if they aren’t assured of a full summer’s worth of hours at the pool.

Chris Waite, director of the Greybull Recreation District which oversees the pool, concurred with that statement. “We want to be transparent with our staff,” he said. “Most of them are students and they are very good workers who would probably find other jobs if the pool were to shut down June 30.

“If that were to happen, we might not even have the staff to run it (until that time).”

July and August are typically two of the busiest — and most expensive — months of the year at the pool, and Waite estimated that it would cost $16,000 to get the pool through the end of August. Half of that would need to come from the school district, the other half from the town.

Supt. Barry Bryant said he would support paying for the additional two months. “I would hate to see this community lose the pool, but I have concerns about liability issues as we start into year three of what was a two-year fix.

“But I’d like to take it through the end of the summer, if possible.  I wish we could do it longer, but we’re 41 years into a 25-year facility.”

The pool also came up at Monday night’s meeting of the Greybull Recreation District board of directors.

“Before I was hoping we could push it as long as possible,” said Waite, who has been running the pool for nearly two years. “But from my perspective, my recommendation would be hopefully that’s the end.  There’s just so much. If we can get through the 31st of August, I think we should call that the end.  And not go beyond that.”

Joe Forcella, the district’s maintenance supervisor and a rec board member, said setting an end date for the pool would set the stage for a discussion about where the community goes from here.

Graham predicted that there would be another push for a new pool once the current one closes and people fully realize the impact of not having a pool.

“We saw it the last time,” he said.

Bryant reiterated, however, that with respect to the pool, the community spoke loudly and clearly in the general election, when they rejected both a sixth-cent tax and a bond issue.

“Pools are expensive,” he said. “We could build a new middle school for half of what a new pool would cost.”

Waite said moving forward the rec district still supports the idea of offering swimming lessons — even if it means bussing kids to area pools such as those in Worland, Cody or Powell after the one in Greybull closes.

Burlington has bussed its kids to the Greybull pool in the past, and Bryant said Greybull could do the same, with the primary expense being the cost of gas.

Waite said the district would have “buying power” with area pools, noting that all of them would welcome the additional swimmers.

Selena Brown, a rec and school board member, said she, too, supported keeping the pool open through the end of August, providing there are no major breakdowns.