City pool pic

One of the topics discussed in last week’s city council meeting was the potential overhaul of the city’s community pool. The pool remains closed for now due to COVID-19, with an uncertain fate for the remainder of the summer.

MOUNT CARMEL — The Mount Carmel City Council is eyeing some major change in all things water related in the city.

Some of that change includes a potential exciting expansion for the city’s community pool, as well as the construction of a new water plant, replacing the longstand predecessor, which commissioners discussed the dire need for.

Fate of this summer’s opening still uncertain

Mount Carmel Mayor Joe Judge admitted the uncertainty circulating around the city pool this summer, noting there had yet to be a decision pertaining to its fate for the remainder of the summer. Judge noted some concerning studies regarding fecal matter and COVID-19, which could be transmitted via a large conglomerate of people in a singular body of water.

Though no decision has been made as of now, Judge said the city will swiftly begin planning its opening if they’re given the green light that it’s safe to proceed.

“Once we’re given the green light to do so, we will start planning at that point to open it or not.”

Judge, city seeking Oslad Grant to assist in pool renovation, new additions

After tackling the grim prospect of a summer without the city pool, Judge did offer some potential excitement for city pool goers.

Judge announced the city’s quest for an Oslad Grant, which will be led by Mike Bridges of Charleston Engineering.

The reasoning for the partnership with Bridges, Judge explained, is due to Bridges’ experience. The Olney-based company has been successful in past pursuits for similar projects.

“They have been very, very successful in obtaining the Oslad grants for communities in our area,” Judge detailed. “I know they’ve gotten one for Olney, one up in Robinson — they know what they’re doing and have the connections in Springfield to help us get the funding we need. Currently the Oslad grant is a 50-50, but they’re making it a much easier grant for municipalites.”

Key renovations the city’s eyeing in a potential grant include a new filtration system, a splash park, a new fountain, extending out the bordering fence, and add in a boardwalk area for chairs and additional loungers for accomodation.

Judge explained the biggest complaint he’s consistently heard in regards to the city’s current layout is folks having to step over each other in a crowded area near the pool. With an expanded space for lounging, that could help in solving that problem.

“That’s one of the things we’re going to aleve,” Judge said. “In their design that we hope to have later this month, it’ll also have a new fountain. The current fountain is in desperate need of restoration. I don’t think they’ll be able to restore it, but they’re coming up with a new ornate design for the new pool. As far as the base pool itself, it will not change, we’ll still have the same pool. But in addition, we’re taking plans that were done by Mr. Witsman back in 1992 and trying to implement those plans into a new up to date Splash Park for the city. It was his envisioning back in 1992 of a Splash Park, so hopefully we’ll be able to get some nice grants to help us pay for that.”

Opening date for grant applications was May 1, with the window closing in June. The city’s expected to have their application in well before the closing deadline.

Oak Street fountain still in plans per Dulgar

If you remember the city discussing a fountain going on Oak Street, don’t worry, they haven’t forgotten.

City Commissioner Justin Dulgar said the fountain, which the council agreed to construct last fall, is still in the works.

“It will be installed, but won’t be turned on until everything’s resolved as far as COVID-19. You will see some work being done out there.”

Dulgar said the city’s currently targeting two separate locations on Oak Street which could be nice spots for the addition.

‘Time has come to look for a plant replacement.’

Most water plants last for 25-30 years — Mount Carmel’s plant? It’s been functioning since 1937.

Rather than take on the substantial task of constructing a new plant in the past, the city has opted to renovate the plant time and time again.

Those renovations certainly served their purpose, buying countless years for the 83-year-old plant. But as Judge and Commissioner Dulgar discussed, that option could no longer present itself.

“We’ve been through a lot to get to this point for the water plant,” Judge said. “We need people to understand that this is a big picture [thing]. It was built in 1937, it’s been redone a couple times and for down the line for the future, they say you can get 25, 30 years out of a plant and the plant’s almost 100 years old. We’ve remodeled a couple times, added some new technology, but unfortunately the time has come to look for a plant replacement. If you look at other communities, Fairfield, Lawrenceville, Robinson, a lot of other communities have already made that move because of aging infrastructure.”

“It’s kind of like the old city hall, once you start modifying stuff everything has to be brought up to code and you can’t bring that building up to code feasibly.” Dulgar added.

The two explained that the new water equipment necessitates a new plant as well, as the semi-sized equipment are not feasibly able to be shipped inside the outdated plant with its current restrictions. The city had actually considered reusing its old building until that debacle came to light.

The new plant — if approved — would be built adjacent to the old one on the same site. Upon construction of the new plant, the old one would be demolished and the city and its residents would be spared the thought of any potential necessary renovations, or a new plant for probably 30 plus years.

While they’d love to kick the tires and get the process going, Judge explained that an investment of this size needs to be heard by the community. The council expressed that any vote wouldn’t take place until a meeting which would be open to the public could take place. They spoke of optimism for restrictions to be lifted on June 1, and said a potential vote could come at that meeting.

{span}”The reason we don’t want to have it next meeting, we’re still under this stay-at-home order so people can’t come to the next meeting,” Judge said. “We’re hoping by June 1 that that’s all lifted — which it should be — but if it’s not, we do plan to vote at that meeting if it’s all ready to go, but we will have that meeting outside so the public can attend that meeting. We want to make sure the public can attend a meeting where we approve a brand new water plant, to spend that kind of money.”

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