Boland unveils plans for pool, introduces new finance director

STEUBENVILLE – One year after a successful grassroots effort to open and maintain the Belleview Pool, City Manager Tim Boland announced Tuesday night the city will take over management and operational control of the facility.

Boland asked the council recreation committee to introduce three pieces of legislation to allow the Civil Service Commission to hire pool lifeguards for the summer, authorization for advertising for bids for vending machine services at city facilities, including the pool, and the transfer of $40,593 from the general fund to the Bellview Pool fund.

“It will take approximately $65,000 to operate the pool from June until August. We have $36,600 from the pool fundraising efforts that will be used for the operations of the pool. We have applied for a $10,000 grant from the Jefferson County Commissioners,” explained Boland.

“We had 4,000 pool admissions last year which was very good. If we can expand those numbers, it will show the tremendous impact the Belleview Pool has on our community during the summer months,” added Boland.

“I want to thank the LaBelle Neighbors Who Care and the Community for Youth Development who kept the Belleview Pool open last summer when we thought it was going to be closed because of funding issues. And those two non-profit organizations will stay involved with the pool. I also want to thank all of the people who stepped forward when we needed financial support last year to open the pool, especially TEAM Automotive, which did a fantastic job for our pool campaign. Without their help, the pool would not have opened last year,” stated Councilman at large Kenny Davis, who started the Save the Pool campaign last year.

“I also encourage the lifeguards from last year to apply for the jobs again this summer. We will announce the application process as soon as we talk to the Civil Service Commission,” Davis added.

Maintenance and Repair Superintendent Bob Baird said there is work to be done at the pool before it is opened in June.

“There will be some plumbing repairs and I anticipate additional issues once we start filling the pool with water. But we will get it ready,” noted Baird.

Boland introduced Stacey Williams of East Liverpool as the city’s new finance director Tuesday night.

Williams currently works at Murray Energy.

Williams will replace Finance Director Alyssa Kerker, who earlier this year announced plans to retire. Williams will start on May 5 and Kerker will be retained on a contractual basis for a transitional period.

During the sunshine meeting, council members heard several complaints about drug activity in the city.

“I am all about kids, but I am not about kids who commit crimes. I live next door to Piece of Pie Park and we are in a battle there. I have probably made 500 phone calls to the police during my 15 years in the neighborhood. I have found threatening notes on my car. I have been verbally assaulted for standing up for the neighborhood. I invite every council member to come sit on my porch and watch the drug activity in the park. Drug dealers deal in the park, they smoke dope in the park and they bring their kids there to cover their drug deals. We need help in the 1500 block of Maryland Avenue,” said city resident Michael Merritt.

Pleasant Heights neighborhood activist Teresa DiCarlantonio said she and another volunteer have stood in Veterans Park, “to try to stop drinking and marijuana smoking.”

“There is a lot of bad activity in that park. There are people drinking alcohol from bottles in paper bags. We need help from the police,” said DiCarlantonio.

A third city resident said his mother lives on Adams Street across from the former McKinley School where she can see juveniles breaking into city school buses and dealing drugs.

Council also heard from city resident Joe Scalise, who urged city officials to consider the cost and benefit from hiring a part-time parking enforcement employee.

“I did a cost analysis and it appears to be of no benefit to the city. There are better things that can be addressed downtown with the $15,000 budgeted for the parking enforcement program. There are windows with broken glass and rotting wood. Those are the things that need to be addressed. Enforcing the parking limits will drive people away from the downtown. But if you do proceed with the program I hope you issue warning tickets first. We want people to shop and work downtown. We are not a big metropolis. We need to do something to make the downtown look better,” Scalise stated.

Several ordinances and resolutions were introduced during the sunshine meeting including:

A resolution adopting the recording of revenue to the safety fund;

Authorization for the finance director to establish the water reserve fund;

Authorization for the finance director to establish the special projects probation fund;

An ordinance adopting a temporary tax budget for 2015;

An ordinance adopting a revenue budget for 2015;

Legislation authorizing the purchase of sludge de-watering equipment; and,

An ordinance authorizing the city manager to sign an $82,455 contract with Fort Steuben Maintenance for street closing work.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf called for a finance committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. on May 6 to discuss a request from the JB Green Team for support for a designation fee plan.

Metcalf also asked for a joint safety and finance committee meeting to discuss the S.A.F.E.R. grant awarded last week to the city fire department.

The city was informed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded $1,185,794 from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program that will allow the department to retain three firefighters and hire six additional firefighters for the next two years.

No council members objected to the grant and Boland said he will formally accept the grant this week.

“When we applied for the grant last year we made it quite clear to the fire department the grant application was not contingent on the re-opening of the Pleasant Heights fire station. There are grants available for a feasibility study on the possibility of a new centralized fire station,” said Mayor Domenick Mucci.

“I would like a feasibility study to include looking at the Pleasant Heights fire station,” noted 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto.