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One more time

| December 6, 2005 11:00 PM

Comments about the pool vote last month are continuing to come in.

I talked to a gentlemen recently in a local restaurant who said the money issue was a big factor in his thinking but it wasn't the tipping factor. He wants to know how the development of a pool fits in with the future of the community. How does it mesh with where we are heading and what are we becoming? How does it work with the schools and the hospital?

Since he didn't know the answers to these questions, he voted no.

This comes back to planning. Recently two of the county commissioners met with a professional planner to come up with a growth policy.

Commissioner Marianne Roose said there was a growing concern in the north end of the county about the loss of what people held valuable. Well you can't save those things you hold valuable unless they are identified in a community process as important to preserve while embracing change in the future.

Communities, even entire counties, have been known to have public meetings to identify just what it is that makes where they live so important. What it is they hold valuable. That process is usually part of the discussion on where do we want to go and what do we bring along with us from the past.

That type of discussion has to come before a growth policy so that the policy embraces those things that we as a community — Libby, Troy, Eureka, McCormack area, Bull Lake area, Savage Lake area, the Yaak, Trego, Fortine and the Happy's Inn area — hold dear to our hearts and it doesn't help destroy those things.

I've seen this process occur elsewhere at a grassroots level attracting more than 600 people to two meetings. The final information was printed up and presented to the county and cities and other political subdivisions with a warning not to ignore what the "community values" when making a decision.

Back to the pool:

Another fella told me that the problem with the pool proposal was there needed to be some other money — such as $50,000 or $100,000 from a grant or someplace else to match with what was being asked of the taxpayers. Asking the property owners to foot the whole bill was too much, he said. This guy said he was concerned about the open-ended source of revenue created by the maintenance levy. He voted against the maintenance levy but for the pool.

That was a widespread rumor before the election: People were going to vote for the pool but against the maintenance levy. The final election tally really doesn't show that.

Another suggestion came from a former resident who had lived here most of his life. He said: "Allow me to suggest an alternative source of funding for a pool for Libby. I believe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should foot the bill. After all, in their campaign to get Libby Dam approved they promised a multitude of public campgrounds and swimming beaches along the shores of Lake Koocanusa. They never bothered to tell the good people of Libby that the reservoir would seldom be filled to a level where those swimming beaches (most of which have yet to appear) would be accessible. So to mitigate for broken promises and misleading statements, let the Corps of Engineers foot the bill for the pool."

I heard from another guy who said quite simply we didn't need a pool. And he didn't want to pay for a pool.

While we only heard from a small sampling over the past few weeks since the election, here's what I've heard:

l The pool proposal was too expensive and perhaps too grandiose;

l Additional funding, perhaps sales tax, to offset the expense to taxpayers needed to be found;

l Perhaps in-kind services, such as volunteers, could be used to offset costs such as was done in Whitefish recently;

l People weren't confident that the maintenance levy would cover the long-term maintenance costs;

l There was plenty of misunderstanding as to who would manage the pool and how the money would be spent, so one or two public meetings probably would have helped with the public's perception of the project.

It's time to move on. Time for the pool committee to look carefully at these comments and others they may glean through their own contacts. There are more people who don't want this idea to die than there are people against it. — Roger Morris