Broken Bow City Council Discusses Swimming Pool and Fireworks Stands

BROKEN BOW–Another teleconference-style meeting was conducted by the Broken Bow City Council on Tuesday, April 28 in which the typical summertime activities of fireworks and the swimming pool were discussed.

Following the approval of the consent agenda, the council continued conversations about raising the fireworks application price from $300 to $1,000. Councilman Dave Schmidt said although a price of $1,000 is at the higher end compared to other cities, he does not feel it is out of line because those dollars go to make the public fireworks display possible.

Larry Miller said in looking at comparisons, suburbs of Lincoln or Omaha are likely to have an application fee of $1,000 in order to limit the number of stands.

Council President Jacob Holcomb said he would like to proceed with the $1,000 fee and the council needs to make a decision soon. Holcomb said the fire department relies on its fireworks stand sales to put on the annual July 4 display and because enough business is going to other fireworks stands, it has impacted the ability to put on the display and causing the city to compensate in other ways.

Troy Wheeler of Cozad spoke on the matter saying he has operated a fireworks stand in Broken Bow for several years with the understanding that his fees were already going toward the fire department’s display. He said he is opposed to raising it to $1,000 and added it is nerve wracking to see the price increase by $700 considering concerns if the state will even allow them to sell fireworks this summer.

No decisions were made regarding the fireworks stand application price.

The City Council also discussed whether or not to open the swimming pool due to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions. Council members voiced concerns about public safety and the financial aspect of opening the pool.

“We don’t expect to make money on the swimming pool but it is a significant cost to the taxpayers and now more than anything I think we need to be looking at these things. Not just fiscal responsibility, but also looking out for the health of everyone in the community,” Holcomb said.

“I believe there is substantial risk for the possibility that the health directive, social distancing restrictions,could easily come back around and then we’d be stuck with all that overhead cost of filling the pool with water and maintaining it with the chemicals and all that goes into that and potentially just be out. And I think from a financial standpoint let alone a health risk standpoint I just don’t think it would be beneficial to open the pool this year,” Schmidt said.

Chris Myers said maybe things will look better later this summer. He said the city is making bond payments on the pool and that the city owes it to the taxpayers to open the pool–even with a delayed opening date–provided there is no safety risk.

“It’s chlorinated. If there’s a place to hangout, the best place is the place where bacteria and viruses are controlled by chemicals. Our pool is a safe place. Maybe not as much as outside, but the water is controlled with chlorine. I understand maybe pushing back the opening date until we know more but I know the bond payments aren’t stopping and the minute we can open up I think the people and kids in our community need to go or have the option to go because they’re paying for it,” Myers said.

Larry Miller said even if the pool is allowed to open, it will be difficult to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Mayor Rod Sonnichsen saidĀ  it is important to take in all of the information from the governor and health agencies and to not make any choices right now. He said Governor Ricketts has estimated pools might be able to open in July but even then common areas are difficult to disinfect and people are in close proximity. Sonnichsen added that if the pool does not open in Broken Bow, the city could save around $90,000.

(Click here to view a statement referenced by Sonnichsen from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.)

No decisions were made regarding the swimming pool.

The City Council approved the appointment of Chris Henderson as a Broken Bow Police Officer and also approved theĀ Interlocal Agreement with the Broken Bow Township regarding reciprocated equipment usage for one year.

Tuesday’s meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m. and the next City Council Meeting will be on Tuesday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m.