Davis continues campaign for pool

STEUBENVILLE -The city’s Parks and Recreation Board Wednesday night gave its informal blessing to a grassroots fundraising plan aimed at opening the Belleview Pool this summer.

Councilman at large Kenny Davis said he will now present his plan to his colleagues during a 6:30 p.m. recreation committee meeting Tuesday night.

“I drive around and look at our parks, and I can see where our recreation is going. I believe we need to hire a recreation director and we need to stop talking and start doing things. We now have the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center under control. Now I want to hold a fundraiser to raise $40,000 in May so we can open the pool for three months this summer.

“I learned this evening the pool is already set to be repainted under the warranty agreement with Grae-Con Construction. That is not an expense. So we are talking about the chemicals for the pool and staffing. And, I already have people offering to help us raise the $40,000 we will need for a three-month schedule. We want to get water in the pool and have a safe place for kids to swim,” continued Davis.

City Manager Cathy Davison expressed reservations about the pool plan, citing contract language with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2015 that prohibits part-time or seasonal workers if AFSCME members are laid off.

“I understand the union contract, but no one has been laid off and no one is facing a lay off,” said Davis.

“But people were bumped from their jobs. I am hesitant about this because of the union contract. But the ultimate decision will be made by the council,” responded Davison.

“That’s a grievance I am willing to take on. This is not a union issue. This is a children’s issue. I do not believe the union will oppose this. If they do, shame on them. If we don’t use the pool, we will lose the pool. I will not take budget money to re-open the pool, but it is time to get something done. And, I am willing to do a fundraiser every year for the pool,” stated Davis.

“I want to organize a homecoming festival, a block party atmosphere or an all-day battle of the bands and put it at the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater. We could line Third Street with vendors. I would like to fill the park with people who will support our campaign and bring the community we grew up with back to Steubenville,” explained Davis.

“I am willing to do what I can. There have already been business people who have approached me about helping. If the council approves this plan, I am willing to help you,” said Jim Emmerling, a member of the recreation board.

“I believe in this city and its citizens. I believe our citizens will support this. We just need someone leading the charge. I encourage everyone who is interested in helping in some way to open the Belleview Pool to attend the 6:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the city council chambers to show support for the idea,” said recreation board Chairperson Sandi Rue.

Vicki Nurczyk, the board’s vice chair, said she has known Davis a long time, “and when he gets excited about something, there is no stopping him.”

In other business during the two-hour meeting, Davison told the recreation board members a group of volunteers from Steubenville Community Inc. have started working at the MLK Recreation Center.

Rue reported Urban Mission Ministries is interested in facilitating programs at the recreation center.

The board approved several facility requests including:

A shelter at Jim Wood Park on Sept. 7 by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention;

Two shelters at Jim Wood Park on May 9 for a memorial butterfly release service by Charity Hospice;

The lower level of Belleview Park on July 20 for the second-annual birthday bash for the Lee Alexander West Spiritual organization;

The Belleview Park top fields from mid-May to mid-August on Tuesdays and Fridays for the Tri-County Church softball league;

Jim Wood Park on May 23 by Pugliese West Elementary School for an end of school party;

Belleview Park ball fields and the North End field until July 15 for Steubenville Little League;

The Jim Wood Park gazebo on July 12 and 13 for the annual Ville Rib Burn-off;

The North End ball field for the Steubenville Girls Softball Association; and,

The Belleview Clubhouse for a summer day camp sponsored by the city and the LaBelle Neighbors Who Care.

The board tabled a field request from the Eat N’ Park company softball co-ed team until further discussions are held.

And, a request from the Ohio Valley Ladies Tennis League for the Belleview Park tennis courts was declined because the courts are scheduled for a resurfacing project until mid July.

A request by the Franciscan University of Steubenville men’s tennis program to hang a banner at the tennis courts during home matches was approved.