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Editorial: Diving into the pool debate

Worthington City Hall (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

A petition with more than 500 names is certainly impressive. Then again, so are the costs and the probable levy increase associated with fulfilling the goals of those who signed their name to it.

So what to make of Citizens Pooling Together's desire for a new outdoor swimming pool? Should the group's efforts be carefully considered by the Worthington City Council and Mayor Alan Oberloh? After all, it's clear that such a facility has some significant community support. Or, should financial data and estimates cited during Monday night's council meeting by Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark pre-empt construction of a new pool? After all, the city already invested $4.5 million in the indoor aquatics center located at the Worthington Area YMCA not long after the 2008 hospital sale.

In determining how to move forward, we wish to note the following:

l As Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh noted, the city made no secret of its plans for the YMCA aquatics facility when they were being formulated. "We were very forthright with this community," Oberloh stressed. "We had schematic designs at several locations throughout the city; people could have looked at it anytime."

l We believe it's difficult to argue that Worthington's outdoor pool is quite small considering this community's size.

When considering these two points, it seems like at least one place to start with the petition is to take it at face value while ignoring any opinions about a lack of transparency in the past. Nothing changes the fact that many people in the community now want an expanded outdoor pool facility.

The council agreed Monday to look into the issue, and that's a wise move. However, in working with Citizens Pooling Together, outdoor pool advocates need to understand that nothing is going to come inexpensively, and the city will need to be -- as Oberloh said -- forthright while clearly breaking down options from a fiscal standpoint.

From a quality-of-life perspective, a bigger outdoor pool would indeed be great. Yet to us, it seems difficult to envision doing more than adding on to the current YMCA aquatics center, and even that won't come without costs that many might find prohibitive. It seems clear that any flexibility required in discussions between new outdoor pool supporters and the city will need to originate with the former rather than the latter.