Maintain Ferry pool

Essentials such as street repair, keeping water lines in good shape and ensuring the police department is staffed adequately have to be priorities for any local government official.

Recreation has to take a back seat.

That should not be the case in Martins Ferry, where the municipal swimming pool is both a recreational facility and a public safety need.

As we have pointed out many times, a large part of the reason so many towns in our area built public swimming pools decades ago was to provide an alternative to creeks, lakes and the Ohio River. Swimming in natural bodies of water can be both dangerous and unhealthy.

With the Ohio River adjacent to city limits, that is a special concern in Martins Ferry.

And the pool has proven popular in recent years when other area communities closed their swimming facilities. Low-cost admission and special community events, such as “dive-in movies,” have been used to promote the pool.

Last month, City Council members were told the filter house serving the municipal pool needs to be repaired. Constructed about half a century ago, the building’s steel beams and metal floor have deteriorated badly, in part because of chemicals used to treat pool water.

City Park Board President Larry Deaton told council that if repairs are not made, “the worst-case scenario” is that the pool may not open next spring.

Service Director Scott Porter agreed the building should be repaired. He told council members he plans to seek a grant to cover part of the cost. An estimate of the price for repairs is being prepared.

No doubt a few dollars can be raised through contributions from the public. And some grant money may be available.

But city government will have to bear a large portion of the burden.

Council members should build the project into next year’s budget. Keeping the pool open is important enough to Martins Ferry to be considered a priority.