After only a day, the sit-in protest of the Camp-Humiston Memorial Swimming Pool is already over. Shortly before noon on Tuesday, some of the informal leaders of the protest entered into a meeting with city officials and walked away with the realization that the pool was not only incapable of being salvaged, but was additionally a safety hazard.
    With plans to arrive early Tuesday morning before demolition fencing could be erected, residents instead started to gather at the pool even earlier Monday evening. The ad hoc protest group intimated that they would stay for as long as it took to save the pool. But after a meeting with Mayor Bob Russell and City Administrator Bob Karls, vocal protestants Mark Smith and Cheri Leenders-Kruger both said that they understood why demolition had to happen.
    “Myself, Neil Studley, Tim Lewis, Shelley Adcock and Cheri Leenders-Kruger all just got out of a meeting with Mayor Russell and Bob Karls,” said Mark Smith. “Upon leaving the half hour-long discussion we all agreed without reservation that the battle is over.
    “The structural integrity of the building has been completely compromised and the safety issue cannot be ignored. A city cannot keep a structure as this, fully knowing of its condition, for obvious safety and liability reasons.”
    Smith added that “Restoring the pool is just not feasible and building anything in a flood plan is impossible due to (federal regulations) so no fence around it either.”
    Kruger said that “After a very lengthy meeting it was decided that we can’t save our pool, no matter how many of us gather. The pool is not just in a flood zone, but a floodway, and is in a state of disrepair and (it) boils down to safety issues and not wanting anyone hurt.”
    Both expressed appreciation that Russell and Karls took the time to explain the infeasibilty of saving the pool.
    When reached for comment, Karls told the Daily Leader that it was a “productive meeting” in which he and the mayor were able to better explain the city’s position.
    “We talked about the safety factor and that, knowing the condition of the pool, we couldn’t just turn a blind eye to it,” he said. The city administrator added that the pool was not just in the floodplain, but the floodway.
    “Floodplain means that water gets up to a certain level, while floodways means that it’s in the flow of the river,” he said. “That is much more tightly regulated by the Department of Natural Resources than the floodplain is.”
    Some had suggested that the pool could be torn down and a new or identical structure built in the same spot, but Karls said was not possible due to its position in the floodway. The Humiston Pool, he said, exists there because the structure, built in 1925, was grandfathered-in before more stringent federal regulations on floodways.
    Karls said that there would be preservation efforts to keep as much of the front facade of the pool as possible, so it could be put back together at a later date. He said that these plans were “very preliminary.”
    Ultimately, the city administrator said it was a good thing that this discussion happened.
    “We appreciate the opportunity to sit down and discuss the issues with the community; that’s always healthy,” he said. “I think that they approached it in a very respectful manner and that healthy community dialogue like that is very beneficial to both parties.”