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State grant ensures pool reopening in Monroeville

| Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009

A $55,000 state grant secured by state Sen. Sean Logan just weeks before Monroeville must pass its 2010 budget will keep Bel Aire Pool open for another year.

Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko's announcement at a budget hearing Monday was met with a round of applause from dozens of pool patrons.

The municipality proposed closing the pool because it operated on a deficit for a number of years, according to the 2010 tentative budget. People attended council's two public meetings earlier this month to express their displeasure with the proposed closure, offer ideas on how to save money, and volunteer their services.

Laura Sheldon, 45, one of the most vocal critics, offered to build and maintain a Web site for Bel Aire Pool and its swim team.

Lauren Lewis, 54, said there are other people willing to help to keep the pool open beyond 2010.

"There's plenty of us moms who could volunteer to help work in the concession stand, water flowers. Whatever it takes," she said.

In other business, council will hold an additional public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 28, prior to voting on the budget. Originally two hearings were scheduled: Monday's and one on Dec. 21.

The third hearing was scheduled in light of Councilwoman Lois Drumheller's concern that this week's hearing wasn't properly advertised as stipulated in the municipality's Home Rule Charter.

She said a summary of the budget and notice that the full document was available for public review was published in local newspapers on Dec. 3. The first public hearing is to be held between 14 and 21 days after publication, according to the charter. Monday's hearing was held 11 days after the notice appeared.

"By all means I would never want to cause an end of the public hearing," Drumheller said. "My interest is in not making us liable for a mistake that costs everyone."

Municipal Manager Marshall Bond said he considered the date of publication to be Nov. 30, when he transmitted the budget to council, posted it online and made it available for viewing at the library.

Bond said Solicitor Bruce Dice suggested holding another hearing as a precaution.

Dice wasn't present Monday, but advised council via telephone to proceed with the hearing on the basis that council is required to hold, but isn't limited to, two public hearings on the budget.

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