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Libby mayor: Pool construction rumor is just that

Daily Inter Lake | September 25, 2020 7:00 AM

Despite the rumors, the construction work near Libby City Hall is not for an aquatic center.

After city employees received a spate of phone calls inquiring about the exposed earth, Mayor Brent Teske said Sept. 21 that the area, formerly a traffic triangle, would eventually serve as parking for nearby tennis courts.

“It is not going to be for a city pool,” Teske said during a Libby City Council meeting in an effort to tamp down on the speculation.

How the rumor started remains unknown. City Administrator Jim Hammons said that he has received two phone calls in recent weeks from “pretty upset” residents concerned about the possibility of a pool going in at the spot.

Confusion may stem from a stalled grassroots effort build an aquatic center in town. Last year, members of the adroitly named Kootenai Wellness and Aquatic Center (KWAC) committee unveiled the proposal to applause at a Libby Chamber of Commerce event.

Although initial draft plans called for spending between $5.2 and $9 million on a facility, organizers eventually settled on a $12.6 million proposal. Private donations would fund construction while covering annual operating costs would depend on user fees and residents approving a mill levy during the spring election.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy, organizers shelved the ballot question. Tony Petrusha, a leader in the organization, told city councilors Sept. 21 that the group tentatively planned to begin campaigning again in the near year.

“That is not our excavation on that street,” he said.

Word of the rumor caught a few members of city council by surprise.

“Did we really get phone calls?” asked City Councilor Brian Zimmerman.

“Oh yeah,” Teske replied.