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Eleanor mayor wants Putnam to fund pool

By Ryan Quinn, Staff writer

WINFIELD Eleanor’s mayor asked Putnam County commissioners Tuesday for $30,000 to help pay pool expenses at a park that the county let the town take over this year.

Commissioner Joe Haynes, who also serves on the county Parks Commission, said he’s opposed to giving towns and cities county money for any purpose — including for the Eleanor park and a new bridge to replace the current one-lane bridge leading into Hurricane City Park, for which Hurricane City Manager Ben Newhouse requested $20,000 to $25,000 last month.

Commissioners Steve Andes and Andy Skidmore said they’re not opposed to providing some amount of money.

Eleanor Mayor Walter “Fred” Halstead said his town of about 1,500 people has already spent more than $40,000 “getting the doors open” at the pool at Putnam County Park, which the Parks Commission decided to turn over to the town earlier this year.

“It wasn’t something we had expected,” Halstead said. “We knew we had a lot of repairs to do — not to the extent that we did have.”

Halstead said the 200-acre park, the county’s largest, has the county’s only public pool north of the Kanawha River, and the pool has had almost 5,000 visitors this summer.

The mayor provided commissioners a list of expenses that included about $5,600 for plumbing fixtures in the bathhouse, $4,100 to rebuild a pool pump and $3,000 for wood benches for the deck. He said the town had to replumb almost the entire bathhouse because lines froze and burst, and the pool liner has failed, about four years after it was installed. He said he doesn’t know whether a 10-year warranty will apply because the county Parks Commission didn’t follow up on certain requirements.

“I’m not trying to kick nobody; true is true,” Halstead said. “A lot of it is just lack of maintenance.”

Scott Williamson, head of the Parks Commission, said installing the liner cost more than $230,000. He said the Parks Commission favored building a new $1.3 million pool — with features like areas where wheelchair users could easily enter the pool, instead of the current several-foot drop-off from the edge to the water, which requires lifts to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

But Eleanor officials wanted the pool, which is over 40 years old, reopened as soon as possible, he said, so the county installed the liner.

“I told them then, it’s going to look pretty, but it’s going to be a pretty mess,” Williamson said.

Haynes said that besides its age, the pool also faces problems from what seems to be a spring pushing groundwater against it. He said officials repeatedly asked whether Eleanor could handle the park financially.

“The Parks Commission did question, ‘Do you want to do this?’ ” Haynes said.

In February, Haynes called the park turnover a “win-win” because it would allow the county to focus on its other parks, and he said he believed the town would be able to handle the takeover.

Haynes said Tuesday the county may know whether it can afford the $30,000 when it receives its figures for the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, likely next month.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.


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