WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jeff Smith will take over as Watertown mayor as the city pays cash from its savings for a new $3.1 million pool and bathhouse project. The project will likely move forward, but there could be a different way to pay.
Wednesday morning, crews were pouring concrete for the floor of the new Thompson Park pool.
"It's our goal to get it done by the end of the day tomorrow so sometime in the near future, weather permitting they're going to be doing the walls.. so we're making really good headway with the pool," said Erin Gardner, superintendent of Watertown Parks and Recreation.
While campaigning, Watertown mayor-elect Jeff Smith said if chosen, he would consider trying to stop the $3.1 million pool and bathhouse project, but only if it were feasible, if concrete hadn't been poured and the city could get out of its contract without penalty.
Now, with concrete being poured, it seems the project's future is solidified.
"I don't think the city of Watertown needs 3 pools, we didn't need the pool at Thompson Park but if work has progressed, I'm not going to throw out good money over bad," said Smith.
With the project unlikely to be stopped, Smith thinks the city will have to close 1 of its other 2 pools. He and city council candidate-elect Jesse Roshia also say the city should look into changing the way it will pay for the project. Roshia says the city should re-consider bonding for the project, instead of paying for it with city savings, called the general fund balance.
“One of the big concerns that I had and I had heard out there on the trail was borrowing from the general fund was irresponsible and when you borrow from the general fund and it dips, your fund balance not only goes down, but your interest rates go up so that really kind of handicaps your ability to do future projects so I think it would be responsible to re-look at bonding it and at least hear what that looks like and see if that makes sense for the city moving forward,” said Roshia.
City Manager Rick Finn says bonding for the project is still an option with a minimum of 4 votes. But, he says money already spent would not be eligible to be included in the bond.