Leave it to Fort Erie's own Eddie Haskell to promote and host a public information meeting about the Kinsmen Pool during an election. Especially when there is no real news coming forward about the now-closed pool. To many, this is merely a campaign stunt, using a town facility to advance his mayoral hopes while leading people to believe that major advances have taken place in the fight to reopen the forty-five year old open air pool in Fort Erie.
The truth is that the Underwater Recovery Unit that Passero claims is still in negotiations with the town to take over running the pool is far, far away from reaching any kind of agreement. Of course to Passero, who knows all, this is already an almost done deal and he goes on to expound on the advantages of the pool being run by a not-for-profit organization in a recent article in the Fort Erie Times.
He's already hoping to have the pool open by next summer. In his dreams. He forgets that in October, 2011:
A feasibility report presented to council Monday night had most agreeing none of the five options available to rebuild or renovate the historic aquatic facility are anything the town can afford.
To build a new facility would cost about $2.5 million, and to keep it open for the 2012 season, the town would have to set aside at least $180,000 to fix safety problems.
Later in the article, Stephen Passero
"asked staff to prepare a report explaining the budgetary impact should the town pitch in $1.5 million, leaving his fundraising committee to find the additional $1 million through grants, community sponsorships and fundraising."
Even Ward 2 Councillor Rick Shular concluded that it was too expensive and suggested a splash pad with a revisit to the pool issue in three to five years. Council finally voted to no open the pool for the 2012 season and it has been closed ever since.
And, leave it to Passero to link the restoration of a National Historic Landmark (The Point Abino Light House) with the refurbishment of the Kinsmen Pool.
Passero was disappointed in 2012 “when the majority of council decided not to replenish the facilities reserve fund that was used to restore the lighthouse.”
Back during budget deliberations in early 2012, Passero demanded that council put $378,000 in the facilities reserve fund for the pool for 2013. The earlier feasibility study prompted council to close the pool for the 2012 season as it could not afford the $180,000 needed to fix necessary safety problems. Council was already facing a possible 9% tax increase.
Add that to the statistics slowing a sharp decline in pool use over the past several years and the high cost of refurbishing the pool becomes even more problematic.
Note that Passero has donned a light blue shirt for his photo op, apparently eschewing his signature white shirt and black tie for less vampirish garb. His not-so-secret campaign manager is working hard to get Passero to look user friendly. It's hard to disguise such raw desire for power; certainly a blue shirt won't do it.
And certainly a campaign stop, disguised as an informational meeting about a troubled public pool won't do it either. Besides, isn't that against campaign rules?
See for yourself by attending the meeting on Tuesday, September 9 at 7:00 p.m.at the Centennial Branch of the Fort Erie Library.
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