WEST LAFAYETTE -- The recent announcement that the West Lafayette Village Pool will not open this summer and to remain closed indefinitely is being met with much opposition.

The March 8 council meeting turned into a lengthy and emotional debate between a large group of citizens and village council.

The group of citizens appeared at Monday's meeting to voice their concern over the pool committee's recent decision.

They voiced many questions to council, as well as later offering several suggestions that they felt could possibly save the village's swimming pool.

Among some of the group's questions and concerns, the main question was "What is the next step, what can we do to get the pool to stay open?"

Councilmember and Pool Committee Chairperson Dave Rogers said the committee's concern over the 38-year old pool, and the pros and cons of repairing the pool versus replacing it. Rogers said an estimate of $200,000 was given by Patterson Pool Consultants in late December for basic repairs to the plumbing system which Rogers said would only temporarily "band-aide" that part of the pool.

Councilmember and Pool Committee Chairperson Dave Rogers said the committee's concern over the 38-year old pool, and the pros and cons of repairing the pool versus replacing it. Rogers said an estimate of $200,000 was given by Patterson Pool Consultants in late December for basic repairs to the plumbing system which Rogers said would only temporarily "band-aide" that part of the pool.

He said the consistent leaking has also caused increased costs with replacing the water and chemicals that are required for sanitation. He said a specific amount of chemical must be present in the pool in order to meet the state guidelines for a public swimming pool.

"This past summer the leaking issue become so excessive, we struggled to keep that required amount of chemicals in the pool," he said.

Rogers added that concerning the walls and foundation, "There is no way to tell what is underneath the pool."

Rogers said the pool committee discussed the issue at every angle and agonized over the decision since December on what they should do. Rogers said another main issue is that the village's insurance carrier had recently informed the village they will not carry the insurance and liability on the structure due to the potential safety concerns. The village attempted to seek other insurance coverage but were denied due to the same issue.

In response to Rogers's comments, several citizens offered suggestions of the village in regards to seeking another insurance carrier, as well as having another assessment of the estimate for repair to the pool. Rogers said the committee will continue looking at other options such as possibly offering bus transportation to Coshocton Lake Park or Cy Young Park in Newcomerstown, but said, "The pool is not going to open in June. I am sorry to say it but there is no other option at this point."

Several citizens later expressed their personal feelings about the pool and how the closing will affect the village's children.

Francie Shuck, manager of the local pre-school, Precious Treasures, gave an emotional testimony of how much the pool meant to her pre-school students. Shuck provided several pages of petitions signed by those citizens in attendance, as well as handwritten messages from her students that pleaded "please save our pool."

Mayor Jack Patterson later reiterated the village's main concern is for the safety of the community and that the village shares the community's feelings over the decision.

Patterson, as well as Rogers, said, "None of us wanted to see the pool closed. This is a loss to all of us."

A suggestion was later given by councilmember and pool committee member Roger Warne to have several citizens attend the pool committee meetings and provide input. Seven citizens from the group later stated they would plan to attend the next meeting on March 15; among those were Jen Lindig, Tara Dollick, Shuck, and Jason and Maria Prater.

T.J. Justice from Coshocton County Port Authority office was present and offered his assistance to council, citing his past experience with grant writing. Justice informed the group that most grants can take anywhere from six months to a year to be approved. He said grants are not easy to obtain and that there are 88 counties in the state that could be applying for assistance for various needs. He added recent economical concerns have also affected the grant approval process. Justice, also a citizen of West Lafayette, offered his comments, and said he would assist the village anyway he could to possibly help to expedite attempts to apply for funding to repair the pool or any other option.

Citizen Tracy Wyler later presented concerns about the poor condition of village streets and alleys during the recent winter storm, as well as the village's decision to use sand instead of road salt during the winter.

Village administrator Dave Kadri addressed Wyler's concerns regarding the type of equipment that is currently being used by the village and why. Mayor Patterson said the use of the sand was more cost effective for the village.

Other items approved by council included:

* Transfer of $1,500 to permanent appropriations to pay for Low to Moderate Income Survey grant application fee.

* Resolution to authorize the mayor to sign the village's "permit to install application" being sent to Ohio EPA for the proposed upgrade to the village's wastewater treatment plant.

* Continuing education expense for village fiscal officer Lisa Stiteler.

Other items discussed:

* Councilmember Rogers said he plans to attend a council member education training session. Several other council members expressed interest as well. The cost for the training will be $50 and will take place in Cleveland on March 27.

* Kadri announced that water department employee Travis Hahn is about 80 hours away from completing his wastewater credentials.

* Chamber of Commerce President Christie Maurer said the next chamber meeting is March 23 at 6 p.m. at Lafayette Pointe. Yellow Flag Yard Sales are scheduled for May 7 and 8. Sign-up is at Brother's Hardware and must be completed two weeks prior to the event. Sign up cost is $5 to participate and to be included in the yard sale listing.

Council later entered executive session to discuss possible discipline of a village employee. No action was taken.

Council's next meeting will be March 22 at 7 p.m.