A group of concerned citizens addressed the Hoopeston City Council Tuesday night regarding the future of the Hoopeston Swimming Pool.
The group was spurred to action after Alderwoman Lourdine Florek informed the council that the pool would remain closed for another season during a council meeting last month and asked the council to potentially consider closing the pool permanently.
Kim Burch represented the group during the meeting and implored the council to consider re-opening the pool this season.
Burch presented the council with dozens of petitions signed by area citizens to keep the pool open and pointed to the groundswell of support that the group has seen on Facebook in the few weeks that the matter has been up for discussion.
Burch also countered some of the assertions that were made by Florek as justification for keeping the pool closed this season.
Chief among these reasons was a lack of people showing an interest in serving as lifeguards for the pool. Florek said she had sought out candidates, but hadn’t found many.
Burch said that the group had found 12 candidates, some already qualified as lifeguards and some ready to be qualified, who would be willing to serve as lifeguards.
Burch also said the renovations needed at the pool, one would involving making the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, could be completed quickly if the council was motivated.
Burch also questioned Florek’s statement that many local families have pools of their own.
Burch said Hoopeston has a high poverty rate and most families can’t afford to purchase or maintain a pool of their own so they rely on the city pool.
Burch highlighted the important role the pool plays in many local family’s lives and encouraged the council to re-open it.
Burch said the committee she represented wants to work with the city to help find ways to bring more people to the pool and other ways to help.
She said the group wants the council to re-open the pool to give the committee the chance to find ways to improve the pool’s situation.
Burch said the committee was able to draw a great deal of support through social media in just a matter of weeks and believes they can grow this support even further if given more time.
Burch said the committee believes leaving the pool closed for another season would be to the pool’s and the community’s detriment.
Asked how they could bring in more people to the pool in the future, Burch said the committee feels that the city hasn’t done enough to advertise the pool and draw in customers from around the region.
Burch said the city needs to provide better signage to showcase the pool’s location.
Beyond this, Burch said the city could bring in more youths to the pool with themed events and by working with local youth organizations to provide incentives for youths to come to the pool.
Burch said there are plenty of avenues the city and the committee could work together to pursue that could draw more people to the pool.
While the council didn’t commit to re-opening the pool during Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Bill Crusinberry asked that the council consider allocating funds for the pool during Wednesday’s budget meeting.
Crusinberry said allocating enough funds would at least leave the door open for the city council to consider re-opening the pool this year.
In an unrelated discussion, the council adopted the International Property Management Code (IPMC) in a 5-3 vote.
The IPMC has been on the agenda for the city council for some time.
The Central Illinois Land Bank, of which Hoopeston is a member, has asked all of its member communities to adopt the code in order to better facilitate the acquisition and demolition of vacant and dilapidated properties in these communities.
Land Bank Executive Director Mike Davis spoke with the council last month about the importance of adopt this code, stating that it would allow the land bank to utilize the more than $200,000 worth of grant money the city currently has to address blighted properties.
Davis said the grant money will only be available for two years and the process of addressing these properties without the code could take longer than they have.
He said the IPMC would enable the land bank to acquire and demolish multiple properties and utilize the grant money before it expires.
Davis said the land bank wants to set Hoopeston as an example for how grant money can be used to address blighted properties and put it in a good position to get more grant money in the future.
Florek and Alderman Bill Goodwine were staunchly opposed to adopting the code feeling that it provided too many restrictions on the rights of property owners.
Goodwine felt that the city’s own existing property code could be adapted to meet the needs of the land bank with a few adjustments.
Crusinberry said the ordinance included a measure, proposed by Alderman Jeff Wise, that required the land bank or the building inspector to get approval from the council before taking any action on any property in the city.
Crusinberry said this would mean that the council could stop any action they felt was over-reaching.
He added that the IPMC would only be used for major projects such as acquiring and demolishing vacant and dilapidated properties.
Smaller issues, such as long grass and junk in a yard, Crusinberry said those would be addressed by the city’s ordinance officer, not the land bank or building inspector.
After further discussion, the council seemed poised to table the matter once again when Alderman Jeff Wise spoke up and castigated the council for failing to act.
Wise said he’s served on the council for two years and has seen the council continually hold off on making decisions that need to be made.
He pushed the council to act on this matter now and not wait another two weeks to continue the discussion.
Wise made a motion to adopt the code and the motion passed five to three with Florek, Goodwine and Alderman Bill McElhaney voting no.
In other business:
- Wise announced the Street and Alley Department will start alley cleanup Monday, April 19, weather permitting. Concrete, bricks, landscape materials, or lumber will not be picked up. If any of these items are in the pile of yard waste, the pile will not be picked up.
- The also announced that the Water Department will begin flossing hydrants April 23. This will continue, on Fridays throughout the summer months, weather permitting. Please be aware of possible rust during these times and adjust laundry schedules accordingly.