Communicating is complicated
February 26, 2020
Last week I attended one of the four town hall meetings held by the Alva Swimming Pool Task Force. I took along a video camera, and that video is posted on our website AlvaReviewCourier.com.
About 15 people including some elementary to middle school age youngsters attended. It was announced up front that this was a forum for the task force members to hear ideas for the pool. A printed survey was distributed, and people were asked to fill it out.
Those attending had a lot of different ideas for the pool. Some wanted to keep the pool in its present form, updating it only as required to make the state health department happy. The historic value of that approach was stressed. Others didn’t care if it were the same or a completely new facility. They simply wanted a place where kids could learn to swim.
The ideas for financing varied, too. An added sales tax was mentioned, although another speaker said citizens feel overtaxed. Someone suggested the tourism value of the historic pool should qualify it for funding from Alva’s tourism tax. Another idea was to hold carnivals in the open area to the north of the pool to raise funds for swimming pool upkeep and operation.
One younger speaker said he liked going to the swimming pool every day, but a splash pad was not needed. He said it was good place to hang out in the summer.
Someone suggested having evening swims for adults to increase usage of the pool. When task force members encouraged more of those ideas, a back to school night was mentioned, water volleyball, canoe races or stand-up boards.
One comment I found intriguing was that lack of communication doomed last year’s swimming pool bond election to failure. Last year, the city council held several poorly attended public hearings before deciding to pursue the bond election route for financing. It was only after the election to increase ad valorem taxes was scheduled that people started showing up to communicate with the council. Attempts at communicating on Facebook sometimes degenerated into name-calling.
The swimming pool task force members said they hope to do a better job of communicating. Right now they’re gathering information. They intend to get their pool questionnaire out to more people. If you’re interested, you can email the task force at email@example.com. You can also contact them by messaging them through the Alva Swimming Pool Facebook page. Comments may be made on that page, but they will be checked before they are accepted for posting.
I hope the task force finds communication methods that work. In today’s world, it’s harder and harder to communicate. If you’re Mike Bloomberg with seemingly unlimited funds, you can saturate TV channels and social media with ads and hope someone pays attention. Personally, I use TV ad times for bathroom breaks or a search for snacks. I scroll past Facebook ads, only stopping to see what my friends are saying.
The Alva Review-Courier continues to cover what’s happening with the swimming pool, but people have to make the effort to read the paper or check the website for updates.
Currently the task force is gathering information. They are looking into low-cost ways to put some health department approved short-term fixes in place to get the pool open for a few more years. They hope to buy time to make more long range plans and figure out how to finance something that will last a long time.
Whatever solutions are found, the Alva City Council will have the final vote since the pool is owned and operated by the city. Many of the council members spent hours and hours of time over several months trying to come up with a workable solution which was rejected. Council members are interested to see if the citizen task force can come up with a workable plan.