Dearborn residents will have to wait another year to voice their opinion on the city's eight public pools, as a previously discussed city-wide millage is being postponed.
Only the neighborhood surrounding —which is currently closed, as part of —will be to determine if residents near the pool will pay for renovations and upkeep to the pool through taxes.
A millage–which would cover repair and operational costs for all eight city pools–had a chance to appear on this year's ballot, but will not make the appearance, accordint to the Save Our Pools group, which has decided to bide its time until election season next year.
Ryan Woods of SOP said the group wanted to see city-wide millage on the ballot this November, but that can only occur if 3,500 signatures are collected for a petition, or if a member of city council proposes it. Woods said they did not pursue collecting 3,500 signatures this year. He added that despite , the council was unresponsive to introducing the idea as a ballot issue.
“We went up and presented the plan to (City Council) during the budget discussion then we came back to them after,” Woods said of the group's recommendation that council propose the millage. “Why do the rest of us have keep choosing to go down there?”
No More SADs in 2012
Eric Peterson, deputy director of parks and recreation for the city, said that while the long-term future of the city's pools is not imminently clear, the six pools currently open will be open come next summer.
“We have six open this sumer as we did last year, and six are slated to open for the summer of 2013,” he said.
Early in the year when the outdoor pool cool committee met with SOP, Peterson said that an SAD vote for all the pools—except Ford Woods and Jack Dunworth which will continue to stay open regardless—appeared to be the best-received plan by the group.
“There were questions and concerns but everybody did agree that the Special Assessment District idea was the best at the time,” he said. “At the very tail end before budget approval and so forth, there was a vote taken, petition drive, petitions were collected."
But Woods said that even though enough signatures were collected for all six potential SADs, they were not turned in because of too many questions regarding the issue.
SOP decided that a city-wide millage would be more palatable.
“Across the city is cheaper—it's not divisive,” Woods said.
It's About Keeping Pools Open
According to the ballot for Hemlock's SAD vote, each residence would pay approximately $60 to $70 for renovations to the pool. A city-wide millage would only cost about $30 to $40 per residence, and couls would provide every Dearborn residence with city-wide pool tags.
Woods also stressed the importance of keeping pools open over renovating pools. Some renovations and proposed renovations to pools included in SAD votes are not necessary and not desired by the community, he said.
“A lot of people are telling us, 'We just want a pool. We don't need a fancy L-shape, we don't need a rain drop sprinkler in there. We like what we have,'” Woods said. “We don't need a Ferrari, we like our Ford Taurus … but now (residents are) forced to pay ... $90,000 more for L-Shape”
He added that there is currently $40,000 in the city's budget allotted to demolishing the pools, so some residents fear that could be in the near future.
Peterson, however, said there is no indication that any pool is in danger of being demolished.
“Whitmore, at this point, has not opened and we have not demolished that,” he said. “There are no plans at this point for demolishing any of the pools.”
The Hemlock SAD coule reopen that pool by next summer. However, Peterson explained, if a city-wide millage for all the pools in Dearborn was passed in the future, it would supersede any SAD put into place.
Mark Lane of SOP said that from now until next year's election season, the group will be “enjoying the swimming this summer, making sure the residents understand how important these pools are to the community.”
He continued, saying that the future of the pools could be a decisive election in city council elections next fall.
“Honestly, next year is going to be a lot work … making sure the elected officials understand how important these pools are to these kids,” Lane said.