Troy's municipal swimming pools have been closed over the last two summers. Now, city officials have come up with separate plans to get them open again.
Estimates on repairing both pools run as high as $5 million. Mayor Patrick Madden, a first-term Democrat, proposes a bond ordinance in the 2019 budget that would provide funding to repair and re-open just the South Troy pool. Madden notes operating municipal pools nowadays is a very expensive proposition... "...and there's a lot of sentimentality attached to pools. I can recollect spending time at the South Troy pool in my younger years. It was a lot newer then. In the absence of the pools we've worked very closely with the youth organizations in the city and we've provided opportunities for kids to get swimming lessons, to have open swim time at the Y and at the Boys & Girls Clubs. That's worked out well but people are still yearning for pools and the good old days and what they had remembered from their youth. So in response to that we did put together in our budget this year which envisioned the repair and renovation of the South Troy pool in the 2019 budget. My sense is that the council is receptive to that and I think in my opinion we can accomplish that without too great a burden on the taxpayers."
Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello is proposing new legislation that would see both city pools open next summer. "It's certainly not fair to the people in Lansingburgh to not have their pool financed the same time as South Troy's. Both were closed at the same time and certainly the people of South Troy and the people of Lansingburgh deserve to both have their pools financed at the same time."
Madden says the Lansingburgh pool is "another matter..." "...and for several important reasons our plan was to address that in 2020. First, it's condition is much more dire. We're looking at a complete demolition and rebuild. This is not a repair. This is a replacement. So that makes it a good bit more expensive and somewhat more complicated. So for example, we need to secure a site. It needs to be designed and engineered for that site. Those things take time. Secondly and very importantly, we need to be mindful of the burden on the taxpayers. Undertaking the project in 2020 would allow us the time to not only secure the site and complete the engineering but also seek grants to offset a porrtion of the cost to our taxpayers. And also by that point we'll also be clearing some of the old debt off our books."
Undeterred, Mantello says the South Troy pool needs over $2 million and notes the requested amount for the Knickerbacker pool in Lansingburgh is in the neighborhood of $3 million. "I had a number of different proposals, a short-term proposal and a long-term proposal to keep the pools open and financed, a long-term project for both the South Troy and the Lansingburgh pools. This measure will bond both pools and get both pools beginning to re-open next year."
Madden cautions this about much more than just two pools. "It's really about the proper management of our finances and avoiding the mistakes of the past that put us so far into debt. That debt has been a dark cloud over the city for the past 25 years and I won't allow that to happen again to the city."
Madden says while Mantello's idea may be noble and sentimental, it's not necessarily practical for now. But he concedes a new Lansingburgh pool could become a jewel of the city... "... if we can get it located in Knickerbacker Park, close to the other amenities, it could become more of a family destination. I can envision a great facility up there. It's just not something that can happen that quickly."
The matter could be advanced next week. "I am hopeful that the rest of the city council will support this legislation. It will be on the finance agenda next Thursday for our proposed budget discussion and then we have a special meeting next Thursday at 7 p.m. to act on the 2019 budget," said Mantello.