Council considers free pool day

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — A potential free day to enter Sidney Waterpark was discussed during Sidney City Council’s workshop session, Tuesday.

Duane Gaier, parks and recreation director, presented City Council with requested information on research he conducted to offer a free day to enter the public pool. He found no other neighboring communities that offer a free pool day. Gaier told council that a community to the south said they would be paying attention to see how the idea goes for Sidney.

To offer a free day for pool entry would most likely make for a very busy day, Gaier said. He told council there are 16 life guards regularly scheduled at the pool, but on such an anticipated busy day they would need to schedule an addition of four more guards to be present.

Between the extra cost for the extra staffing, which will likely include overtime, Gaier said, and the revenue lost by offering free admission, the day would cost the city about $1,000.

Typically, the pool hosts about 300 guests a day during the summer. He said the pool’s capacity is 1,200, but has seen no more than about 1,000 guests at the pool at one time in the past. Despite offering free admission, Gaier said he did not believe there would be an issue with space.

Council members felt offering a free day would be a great marketing tool to promote the pool. Council member Joe Ratermann not only thought it would be a good marketing tool, but said it would give the financially disadvantaged an opportunity to enjoy the pool. He also liked the idea Sidney could “set a precedent,” since no other area communities offers a free day.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan agreed and suggested various other ideas. She suggested reaching out to corporations to sponsor the day, considering offering half a day free at the pool or a free day to bring a friend if you have a season pass.

Council member Ed Hamaker said he likes the free pool day, but felt they should try it out for just one year and see how it goes. He also liked the idea of reaching out to corporations.

Mayor Mike Barhorst said he thinks if it’s a good idea they should not be asking others to pay for the free admission day. Barhorst said he thinks the city should pay for the free pool day. Ratermann agreed.

Barhorst further said they should offer one free day to enter the pool this year and if it goes good, maybe offer a free day to bring a friend next year.

The mayor also asked Gaier what would happen if it rains on the free pool day. Gaier said he thinks the legislation should allow for a day of city staff’s choosing, not a specific day, and based on the weather, the chosen day could change.

Council directed Gaier to have legislation prepared on the matter for further consideration at a meeting in the next few weeks.

In other business, Street Manager Brian Green gave council an update on 2019’s Urban Forestry projects and programs.

He told council Sidney has been named a tree city for the 30th consecutive year.

Sidney’s Arbor Day celebration will be on May 8 at 10 a.m. at Northwood Elementary School, Green reported. He said this year’s celebration will be held on a later day than when Arbor Day is observed on April 26 because it conflicts the Tree City USA award banquet Tree Board members are attending. Board members will be traveling to Centerville to pick up the city’s Tree City USA award.

He provided information for council to review about the benefits and values of urban trees and on tree pruning standards.

Green displayed maps for council on the city’s street tree pruning schedule. He also reported there are approximately 150 remaining ash trees remaining in Sidney. Approximately 1900 street and park trees have been removed since 2011; 90 percent were ash trees, he said. The city is expected to remove about 50 ash trees in 2019.

Ratermann asked if the trees taken down are completely removed or remain where they fall. Green said trees within the city are removed, but deferred to Gaier to comment on trees in the parks. Gaier said they are removed if they fall in well used areas or trails in the parks. If trees are located deep in the wooded areas, Gaier said, they remain where they fall.

Green said they have $10,000 budgeted for approximately 28 trees to be planted in Sidney parks and street right of way areas this year. In 2018 they used the $10,000 budgeted for planting to remove trees.

Green also reported the tree board intends to hold a tree sale again this year. Last year’s tree purchase program resulted in 139 trees sold. The first year of the sale in 2017, 300 trees were sold, he said. During this year’s tree sale, red oak trees, which are being planted at county schools this year, and white oak trees, to be planted at Sidney City Schools in 2020 as part of the bicentennial celebrations, will be available for purchase. An accompanying bicentennial plaque to place at the base of the tree may also be purchased with the tree for about $50, Barhorst confirmed.

During council members’ comments at the end of the meeting, Milligan reminded all about the upcoming “Laff Raffle for the Arts” comedy show to be held at the Historic Sidney Theatre on April 13 at 7 p.m.

City Manager Mark Cundiff told council city staff intends to bring forth an ordinance for funds to pay off a bank note for a recently seized nice truck to be able to auction it off online. The money would go to the police department’s equipment fund. Cundiff said city staff believes it would be best if the truck was paid off before it is posted online.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.