The emotional, community spirit side of the long fight which led Roanoke Rapids City Council to do what they were obligated to do shouldn’t, however, be discounted.
We refrained from immediately coming out in support of the repairs. The argument Councilman Wayne Smith made of the financial uncertainty facing the city in the upcoming fiscal year was a strong one.
In numerous private conversations with city council members and other officials we expressed how we saw the need for these repairs to be made because of the pool’s historical significance. And no one can argue if the pool remained closed and repairs not made there was going to be a lingering perception the communities the Chaloner Recreation Center serves were an afterthought when its residents pay taxes and deserve services like folks on the T.J. Davis side of town do.
People from the community filled seats at Lloyd Andrews City Meeting Hall and passionately expressed their opinions.
Councilman Carl Ferebee, in what can be likened to scenes from Jimmy Stewart in the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, doggedly fought for the citizens he represented and was going to continue to seek out solutions to a problem he knew needed to be addressed.
The emotional side of this battle, some nine months in a war for a just cause, still played a huge part in tipping the scale.
Ferebee stated countless times council was able to pull money for crucial repairs to the Aquatic Center in times really no different from now and use installment financing for other key purchases.
Young and old joined in the fight for the repairs, former lifeguards, those who learned to swim there and those who continue to use the recreation center for various events and functions.
Then there was 10-year-old Kaileb Harrison, who made two impassioned pleas to council to save the pool and preserve the legacy of the Chaloner Recreation Center.
“I would like to go down in history as someone that helped keep this pool open,” he told council Tuesday night.
We believe he made a strong point and will grow into one of our future leaders the city needs.
In the end it is true pragmatism won out as the negotiations on refinancing the remaining theater debt is going to be a boon for the city’s coffers and free up funds just not there in previous years.
But we still believe the weight carried by the residents in their constant attendance of meetings was just as crucial as the cold, hard number-crunching side and we thank them for speaking out — Editor