Town of Ferriday to run pool

Published 12:15 am Friday, July 6, 2007

VIDALIA — The firestorm of controversy surrounding the Ferriday pool came to an abrupt end Thursday.

The consolidated Recreation District No. 1 and the Town of Ferriday agreed the town would operate the pool after representatives spent the morning in court, Recreation Board Director Robert Lee III said.

“As of today, the recreation district is out of the pool business,” Lee said.

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The recreation district had asked the court — presided over by Judge Leo Boothe — to issue a restraining order to keep the town from operating the swimming pool, and both sides had shown up prepared to defend their recent actions.

After a lengthy time of questioning, including prosecuting attorney Brad Burget asking Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen to take the witness stand to testify about the safety of the facility, Boothe called on both sides to try to reach an agreement, Lee said.

On the stand, Allen said the town, the recreation district and even he as a citizen — he paid pool bills — have operated the pool in the past.

Health concerns led recreation district officials to close the pool in 2005, and it remained out of use until June.

In April, Allen and the board came to a verbal agreement the board would take up operation of the pool if the town made repairs to it and it passed a health inspection.

June 5, after the town made some repairs to the facility, the pool was re-opened and was reportedly used by more than 200 people a session. There are two sessions a day.

The recreation district refused to operate the pool because it had not passed a health inspection at the time, but health department officials said they do not inspect pools unless a complaint is lodged.

Less than two weeks later, on June 14, the recreation district had the electricity to the pool shut off. That same day, the town had it restored.

June 20, the recreation district brought in out-of-state pool consultant Bruce Carney to inspect the pool.

Carney concluded the pool should have never been opened.

The recreation district placed “keep out” signs around the pool and placed locks on the facility doors, but the town cut the locks and re-opened the pool.

The Ferriday Town Council authorized Allen in mid-June to look into putting the pool on the town’s insurance.

Allen could not be reached for comment after court Thursday.