Pool adds to Jefferson Memorial Park money woes

July 08, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Jefferson Memorial Park, which operates the only public swimming pool with lifeguards in the county, is experiencing serious financial issues, a Charles Town City Council member said Monday night.

Council member Michael Slover made the comment after Mayor Peggy Smith said during Monday's council meeting that she heard that Jefferson County government might be taking over the park off Mildred Street on the southeast edge of town.

Slover, whose wife serves on a nonprofit board of directors that operates the park, said he has not heard of any such proposal.

Slover declined to go into detail about the park's financial problems, but council member Don Clendening said there have been long-standing financial problems with the park's pool.


One issue is that the number of private swimming pools in the area over the years has led to limited usage of the park's pool, Clendening said.

At one time, Clendening said he proposed enclosing the pool so it could be used year-round.

In 2003, the park's board of directors considered building a dome over the pool. But park board directors said there were many issues to deal with, namely the $180,000 cost.

Another issue with the park is that its playground equipment is old and needs replaced, Clendening said.

"They're in pretty dire need," Slover said after Monday's meeting.

There is an agreement associated with the park that if it ever could no longer support itself, the land would be divided among Citizens Fire Co. and Independent Fire Co., according to Clendening and council member Geraldine Willingham.

Chris Ott, the president of the park's board of directors, confirmed in a telephone interview Monday night that the pool is attributing to part of the park's problems.

"Just to open the pool this year cost us $5,000," Ott said.

Broken pipes in the pool house had to be repaired and the pool's vacuum system had to be replaced, Ott said.

The park is down about $16,000 in revenue from last year, and last year revenues were down about $3,000, Ott said.

The park board asked for about $10,000 from the city this year and received about half of that amount, Ott said.

The park board is preparing to request $20,000 from the Jefferson County Commission, Ott said.

When asked if the park is in danger of closing, Ott said that depends on how the county funding request goes.

Besides a pool, the 13-acre park also offers features like tennis courts, picnic pavilions and a paved walking trail.

Park board members have said in the past that they receive much of their funding from United Way.

The Herald-Mail Articles