City approves $20,000 for swimming pool

May 19, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

The Hagerstown City Council gave preliminary approval to spending $20,000 so that a popular community center pool can open this summer, but council members said they would like the group that runs the center to take more responsibility for its fund-raising.

Memorial Recreation Center Director Ruth Monroe said last week that if the center on West North Avenue did not get the money, the pool there would not be open this summer.

During the council's Tuesday work session, Monroe was peppered with questions about the funding situation at the recreation center, and about how the community center's leadership planned to raise the $75,000 or so they said is needed to fully fund its planned programs this year.


Monroe said the $20,000 she sought from the city would cover expenses for keeping the pool open. She said the money wasn't there because grant applications had not come through, and "we find ourselves in financial trouble."

Monroe said the center has applied for nearly the entire budget - about $70,000 - from the United Way of Washington County. That United Way has donated between $20,000 and $40,000 each year since 1999, and this year donated $18,500.

Monroe said some local churches and businesses have pledged to give between $4,000 and $5,000, and she has applied for grants from the county gaming commission and health department.

Monroe also said she expects to a meet next week with Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele to try to find more money.

Monroe said she hoped the pool could open June 10, in time for the school summer break.

Council members expressed concern that the city may have to continue providing money, and suggested that Monroe try to work with local organizations that use the pool, such as Girls Inc., The Boys and Girls Club, and others to try to find money.

"I have a feeling that this is going to be another line item that is going to be put on the City Council's budget forever," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said.

"Somehow, some way, we have to get this (center) on firm footing so that every year we don't have a crisis," Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said. He and others said they would support the funding request, provided the center's leadership agree to plan better in the future.

City Finance Director Alfred Martin said after the meeting Tuesday that he would try to find room in this year's budget for the money, but he was not yet sure whether the money would come from this year's or next year's budget, which will take effect July 1.

Martin said the funding proposal will be put before the council next week for an official vote.

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