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‘We’ve come a long way in 3 years’

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

“We’ve come a long way in three years.”

Eminence City Council member Danny Meadows couldn’t have spoken truer words at last week’s council meeting.

Little more than three years ago, in April 2008, the Eminence City Council took a step that’s a bit rare in politics these days — they admitted they made a mistake in how they went about reopening the city’s former swimming pool.

And it was Meadows who stuck his neck out during an April 2008 meeting, declaring that the council had gone about the pool situation all wrong, making a motion to redouble the efforts and do it right, whether that meant fixing the pool or choosing not to do so.

In time, because of the estimated costs simply to repair and reopen the old pool — not to mention annual upkeep — the council decided reopening the pool was not a wise use of city money.

The decision to yank the plug on the project did not come without controversy and detractors, who essentially declared that the council didn’t care about children or providing recreation for the city’s residents.
Eventually, the council voted to fill in the pool, and ultimately decided to turn it into a park. That park would later be named for EHS teacher and coach, Dewayne Douglas.

It was the best thing the council could have done with a piece of ground that drew more negative attention than positive.

It was a project that Eminence residents could, and should, be proud of.
And in naming it after a beloved coach, the council gave the city’s children an extra reason to take pride in the park.

In three phases, the last of which is almost complete, the city took the ground from a barely used cement hole in the ground that collected water, frogs and other things, to a well used park with a playground, basketball court, picnic shelter and more.

They did so at a fraction of what it would have cost to repair, reopen, maintain and operate, the swimming pool. And in doing so, they also provided recreational opportunities that will last throughout the year — not just the warm months.

They have come a long way. How much farther can they go?