Galva residents had the opportunity to hear the facts and have their voices heard regarding the fate of the Galva Park District’s swimming pool at a public forum Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Galva residents had the opportunity to hear the facts and have their voices heard regarding the fate of the Galva Park District’s swimming pool at a public forum Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Following the public forum, the Park District board held a special meeting where it voted unanimously to raise the tax levy from $106,558 to $139,400. This raises the tax rate from 52 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 67 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — an increase of 30.8 percent over last year.

The board will go back to the lower rate when the pool project is paid for.

The board also voted unanimously to hire The Blue Water Group of Bettendorf, Iowa, to start immediately. The board will go to both Galva banks immediately to try and secure a loan for the pool project. The project will hopefully be completed by April 2019.

n During the public forum, Park Board President Katie Laurin-Hopping opened by stating the Park District’s last water bill was $8,000 just for water, not including sewer fees. She termed the repairs as an “emergency situation” and that the board just spent $50,000 this year to put a new liner in the pool. In addition to the new liner, recent pool updates included new heater, slide, high dive and chlorinator. The board also found out the work will need to be done by a certified pool operator.

Those in attendance echoed, “This (the swimming pool) is a big part of our town.” 

If the pool was closed, it would cost at least $2.5 million to build a new pool. It was noted that numerous small-town pools in the area have closed, including at Lake Calhoun Country Club and Kewanee Dunes Golf Club.

"We either repair or close it. It is an important part of the community." said board member Larry Morse.

An audience member asked about grants and was told there’s not much available and the grant process usually takes 1-2 years.

"The pool has given a lot back to the community," said board member Dougie Anderson, who also noted the board has always worked hard to keep costs down by doing the work with board members and maintenance workers on the basketball court, tennis courts and sidewalks.

The board introduced Scott Pierce, a certified pool operator from The Blue Water Group of Bettendorf, Iowa. Pierce said of the Galva pool, "It was built well."

Pierce said his company will work all winter, putting up tents with heaters and pouring cement on good days. 

He said all of the concrete must come out and Bell Trucking of Galva has offered to take the concrete.

Pierce said that everything about the pool is "original."

According to records 11,000 visited the pool in 1971 and when it opened in 1968, 3,000 visited in the first 15 days. The record year was in 1988 when 21,000 used the pool.

The board is asking the Galva community present and past to please consider a donation for the pool repair. You can make a donation by mailing it to Galva Park District, P.O. Box 73, Galva, IL, 61434.

Anyone can go to State Bank of Toulon or Community State Bank and leave a donation.

A "Go Fund Me" page might be set up by the board in the future.

The estimate from The Blue Water Group is $354,950. The total could be higher, depending on what the Bettendorf company finds when it gets into the pipes and walls.

In other board business:

n The board clarified the Herbster property was gifted to them. It was a "million dollar gift." The board agreed to maintain the house, barn and fence out front for 25 years. The five-bedroom house was built in 1860 and has 3,600 square feet. The farmground consists of 78 acres which is cash rented. The board has had expenses with a new roof and furnace for the home, as well as keeping it heated.

n The board reported 12 trees at the Park District need to come down because of ash borer disease.