At last night’s regular meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission, Historic City News reporters listened as commissioners called for the county to repair the Galimore Center pool and continue to operate it “as vital to the county as a whole.”
Before the county built the 24,000 square foot Solomon Calhoun Community Center and swimming pool on Duval Street in West Augustine, they made an agreement to be responsible for the upkeep and operation of the Galimore Center — estimated to include about $230,000 a year in pool expenses.
According to St. Johns County Parks and Recreation, the Willie Galimore Center pool “is currently closed for repairs — until further notice”.
“The city pays $5 to $5.5 million in county taxes. What services do they provide?” asked Vice Mayor Errol Jones. “We get very little from the county. We should expect the county to stand by its obligation”.
Commissioner Leanna Freeman added, “The city is not in the recreation business, the county is.”
But now, St. Johns County officials are saying that when the current interlocal agreement expires next September, they are out of it. During their prior meeting, commissioners were informed that the county intends to operate “only” the Solomon Calhoun Center.
County Commissioner Joseph “Ken” Bryan addressed city commissioners at that meeting and when confronted with Jones’ demand that the county honor its contract with the city, Bryan responded by saying, “Contracts have escape clauses.”
Last night, Freeman said, “We are taxed for it. It is their responsibility.”
A community workshop was held by City Manager John Regan last week at the Galimore Center. A number of ideas for renovating the pool and surrounding Eddie Vickers Recreational Facility were discussed — some depending on private funding and donations.
Although the question of who will pay and when the facility will be put back into suitable, operating condition remains unanswered, the City says “reopening of the 20-year-old pool is a priority”.
Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer