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LeROY - LeRoy residents will decide next month whether or not they want to replace their public pool.

Voters will be asked March 21 whether to increase the LeRoy Park District tax rate from 14 cents to 42 cents to provide the $2 million needed for the project.

More than 70 people attended a recent public forum sponsored by Friends of the Pool to answer questions about the condition of the current pool and the bond referendum.

Samantha Gulley, president of the park district board, said there are several major problems with the current pool, built in 1966, including a rough pool floor that has injured patrons, faulty drains, a crumbling concrete deck, leaking gutters, and electrical equipment that is not up to code.

Gulley said the cost to fix the problems is nearly as much as the replacement cost.

If passed, the referendum would result in a tax increase of $125.51 annually for the owner of a $150,000 home.

Land owners in Downs and West townships would see an increase of 71 cents per acre, while land owners in Empire Township would see a 67-cent hike.

The spike in taxes was the primary concern for some who attended the forum. Many audience members asked questions about sources of funding other than raising taxes.

Board member Patricia Larkin explained that the board had pursued grant funding, but grants such as the one that the Tremont pool recently received were "not available to the LeRoy Park District."

Ron Crosby, an audience member who described himself as a fiscal conservative, told the group that he does not like higher taxes. "However, there are places where taxes are necessary, and this is one of them," he added.

Many in the audience also were concerned about what children in the community will do if the pool closes.

Board members said that if the referendum does not pass, they will not open the pool this summer because they do not believe it is safe.

No decision has been made on whether the pool would be demolished or left vacant.

Even if the referendum passes, there is some concern about whether the pool will operate. In that case, the board would hope to work with an engineering company to make some repairs to make it safe enough to use.

Plans for the possible new construction also were shown.

The new pool would include a zero-depth entry, which would make the pool accessible to persons with disabilities and would be approximately the same square footage as the current pool.

The pool averaged 152 patrons daily in 2005.

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