SIDNEY — Sidney City Council agreed Monday to close the baby pool at Sidney Water Park’s (SWP) this summer due to a shortage of lifeguards.
Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier made the recommendation to close the pool during City Council’s workshop session. The city only has 13 lifeguards, or 15 total including the manager and assistant manager, set to open the public pool on June 1. Typically the pool employees 20-25 lifeguards, with 16 guards up on the stands daily.
Only five guards are returning this year, Gaier said, and others have contingent offers, based on pre-employment testing. Although the city is still accepting applications through May 20, lifeguards’ first day for orientation is scheduled for Saturday, May 11.
Gaier said the zero entry level at the intermediate pool will still allow a location for younger children to play.
Due to the reduced number of guards, Gaier also recommended cancelling the free swimming classes, and honor only the pool parties that have been reserved as of Monday. He said there are six evening pool party rentals and three organizations scheduled at the pool several mornings this summer.
Gaier said concerned for lifeguards’ needed time off and water park staff “burnout” is the reasoning behind eliminating any additional rental services. He noted that the financial donors of the swimming lessons would be contacted with the changes.
He also was against offering a “free day” at the Sidney Water Park, which City Council discussed during the March 4 council workshop session. A resolution for the event is scheduled for the May 13 council meeting, but in light of the shortage of guards, he was against offering the free day at this time.
The consensus of City Council was in agreement with Gaier’s recommendations.
The virtual capital tour of capital improvements in the city of Sidney continued with Gaier presenting this year’s upgrades within the parks and recreation department.
The inclusive community playground that accommodates children with special needs at Geib Pavilion in Tawawa Park is projected to be installed in August. The initial estimated cost of the project was $160,000, but with the addition of some other features, the goal was increased to $180,000. Gaier said the initial goal was met, and there is hope the full amount will be met, as some donations are yet to come in.
The play structure at Roadside Park is set to be replaced this year. Each year, one to two structures are replaced, Gaier said. Although the one at Roadside Park is 20 years old, he said it is not the oldest, but is in the worst shape. It will cost $28,000 to replace the structure.
The light poles at Veteran’s Memorial Field, which were originally erected in the 1950s or 1960s, Gaier said, need replaced. He said they are well past due for replacement with several cracks and holes from woodpeckers. Gaier said they are going to try to get grant funds to purchase metal poles instead of wooden replacements.
The fencing at Knoop Field will be replaced this year. The project will be completed likely at the end of the summer season, Gaier said, as baseball season is already underway. It will cost about $32,000 for new fencing.
The sub-structure under the Ross Covered Bridge is scheduled to be painted, likely in August or September.
Fourteen windows will be replaced this year as part of the Senior Center window replacement program that was enacted in 2015. This year’s replacement will cost $4,900. Next year, he said, there are only eight remaining windows to be replaced out of the original total of 110.
Finally, another mausoleum will be added at Graceland Cemetery to the north of existing unit, located close to County Road 25A.
Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth also gave an update on the Ohio Building roof repair. She displayed several pictures of the construction progress and said on Monday that roofers were in the process of resetting the capstones.
In other business, Balling led a discussion, with the help of Police Sgt. Sean Martin, on the goal to purchase E-bikes for police department. Balling said Martin is an avid biker and was better equipped to give a presentation on the bikes and answer council members’ questions. Martin showed video clip examples of how an E-bike would assist officers when patrolling. The E-bike has an electric motor to assist officers up to 28 mph, Martin said.
The advantages, Martin said, of a police mountain bike include the following:
• Approachability — allows for vastly more contacts with the public than a patrol cruiser would allow;
• Terrain — allows for access to crowded or congested areas, as well as the ability to travel on and off-road;
• Awareness — allows for an officer to better use their senses (vision, smell, hearing);
• Blending — ability to hide, or hide in plain sight.
Balling said it is a long-term project they want to institute over the summer with the majority of the funds deriving from the Law Enforcement Trust Account that was obtained through forfeitures. Council members agreed it would be best for the purchase of two bikes. Legislation will be brought back at a future City Council meeting to appropriate funds for the additional money needed for the purchase.
And in final business, Dulworth reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, May 20, 2019, as well as the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.