Murray Pool Plan trickles along after special meeting

Pool schematics submitted by various builders over the years

The city commission recently held a special meeting on the Murray Pool proposal and passed a resolution 4 to 1 (with Commission Valerie Newman dissenting) providing direction to Di Pompeo Construction Corporation on design concepts and operational cost efficiencies. Although it appeared the progress of the meeting could be derailed by the incessant front row chatter of anti-pool activists and Newman’s objections to issues not related to the agenda, the body managed to stay focused during the two hour meeting to crystallize the essentials desired to make the Murray Pool project move ahead.

President of Di Pompeo Construction, John Di Pompeo, showed up 45 minutes late prompting Vice Mayor Josh Liebman to question whether or not they could handle project deadlines if they were unable to make discussion meetings on time. Project architect Robert E. Chisholm offered commissioners apologies for the tardiness and presented non-cost specific generalities while those in attendance awaited Di Pompeo’s traffic delayed arrival.

Deadlines were germane to the discussion as the city is awaiting a response on a requested extension for the $220,050 pool grant that expired March 31, 2012. The primary Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding of $1,207,374 is set to expire December 31, 2012 and like last year, the commission anticipates requesting another extension.

City Manager Hector Mirabile appeared optimistic about the grant renewals as long as substantial completion can be shown by the December 31st deadline. “I am in contact with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) and they are receptive,” said Mirabile. “They don’t want to commit yet because they want to see movement.” Mirabile’s office has already sent a formal letter requesting an extension on the March 31 deadline and are waiting to hear back.

Concessions, canopies, tot lot amenities, roofing, bathrooms, solar heating and a myriad of other related issues were discussed and ultimately the decision was made to eliminate the wading pool for toddlers, and keep the splash play area to 2000 feet of the total 5000 feet maximum space available for the main lap pool and entire project. Additional parking was suggested but according to the city manager is not a grant stipulation.

Questions arose regarding a possible reduction of the presented $1,369,499 bottom line from Di Pompeo since the wading pool was eliminated. “Let me manage,” said Mirabile. “Believe me, I am a penny pincher, give me the budget and I will make it work.”

Project architect Chisholm concurred with Mirabile’s remarks regarding workable deadlines. “I have been in this business a long time and worked for HUD directly for many years. I used to give out grants such as these. As long as they see that you are organized and moving along, everything will be fine.”

Newman’s concerns seemed substantial enough for Mirabile to encourage the commission to keep them in mind. She suggested the inspector general could potentially audit monies spent sometime in the future if allocation of dollars was not rigorously monitored within the constraints of the grant.

Di Pompeo alluded to a level of frustration from his team. “I bid on this project four times. I have been here many times and my people cost money. I don’t want to price it if you don’t have the grant. I need to redesign and do a full blown schematic. I have no problem doing what you want me to do but put yourself in my shoes.” To which Vice Mayor Liebman responded, “Welcome to South Miami.”

The revised plans are expected to arrive on the city manager’s desk before the next meeting. Mirabile anticipated another special meeting will be called afterward to continue to move the Murray Pool forward.

For more information on the (Murray) Pool Project, call the City Manager’s office at 305-668-2510.

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