Pool committee continues conversation

Catie Clark

The second meeting of a citizen group convened at Blackfoot City Hall on Thursday to discuss the preservation of the city pool. Attendance was lower than the 25 people who attended the first meeting.
"This meeting time is a problem for a lot of people," said Diane Burt, referring to the starting time of 3:30 p.m. "A lot of people work during the day."
"I know several people who called who are interested in participating," said Jeanette Spears, who manages the pool. "They could make a meeting if we held it in the evening."
The committee resolved to hold the next meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, at council chambers in City Hall. There will also be meeting and tour of the pool for interested parties on Saturday, April 21, at 9 a.m.
At the first meeting of the pool committee last week, the attendees formed two subcommittees: one run by Jim Wilcox, to gather information on what people in the area really want or expect from a pool; and one run by Spears, on improving participation and communication about the pool's programs.
At Thursday's meeting, the committee decided to split Spears' subcommittee in two.
One of the new subcommittees will be headed by Spears. It will focus on pool activities and participation. The other new subcommittee will be headed up by Aaron Mackley for now. It will take on the public relations functions of communicating the pool's programs to the public.
The split was deemed necessary because Spears cannot pursue some PR functions by law because she is a city employee. For example, if the pool committee wanted to communicate information on a possible future bond initiative, Spears can not be involved as a public employee.
As the publisher of Blackfoot's daily newspaper, Mackley appeared to be a good choice for taking over communications and other PR functions regarding the pool.
A number of other agenda items were discussed during the meeting, including ways to increase participation at the pool. The design of the survey that Wilcox's subcommittee wants to distribute was also a topic. Wilcox wants to distribute the survey soon in both the city and surrounding county areas.
The difficult subject of funding was also considered. It was noted that fees to use the pool were under the control of the City Council, so any proposed fee changes would need to be brought to them. The creation of a recreation district or a more-narrowly defined district to help fund the pool was also a topic.
"I've lived in the county over by Snake River (High School) all my life," said Mandy Anderson. "I use the pool and everyone who lives around me uses the pool. It would be good for all of us who live in the county to have a say in the survival of the pool. We would be happy to help fund it in order to keep it going."
"The three subcommittees really breakdown into three functions," Mackley said. "One group is bringing information in on what people want from the pool, one group will be taking information back out to the public on what we discover about expectations for the pool, and the last group will be finding ways to expand the public's participations at the pool."
"Assuming we are successful in proving that people really want and support the pool, and that we can expand the ways for people to use the pool, then we can make a real plan to show people these facts. With the right information effectively communicated back to the people, there's no reason a pool bond shouldn't pass." Mackley concluded: "we have no plan right now and that's why we need one to really communicate and engage the public. Communication is key."
Anyone interested in joining the citizen committee to support the pool or its subcommittees can contact City Hall at (208) 785-8600.