It was almost like a spring ritual.
For the past two decades, Slatington borough employee Steve Martinez always turned on the water to fill the community swimming pool.
He did it again this year. The pool was scheduled to open this past weekend, he turned the water on, and the pool started filling.
Along came Borough Council member Kris Burek, who complained that there was a "theft" of services, referring to the water going into the pool. She had the police stop the pool-filling process.
This meant the pool didn't open as schedule this past weekend.
Burek contends that there is no documentation to support filling the Northern Lehigh Pool with water and nothing in the minutes states the borough agreed to supply water to the Northern Lehigh Swimming Association.
Initially, she called borough hall and asked if the Swimming Association was being billed for the water. When told they were not, she took her own administrative action.
As a lone council member, she overstepped her bounds. By her actions, she deprived the children in the community an extra weekend of swimming. She took away money from students who serve as lifeguards and who would have been working the past several days. Worse, she ignored what was best for the community she represents. After all, it's a "community pool" and it's the community in general that benefits by it.
The proper way to handle the situation would have been to wait until the next council meeting and then make a motion to bill the association for the water it used to fill the pool. We doubt if such a motion would have passed. Probably Burke doubts it, too, which is why she took such bullying action.
Since 1963, Slatington borough has reportedly been providing water and paid for chlorine for the pool.
Burek was a council member last year when the pool was filled. Why didn't she raise her complaint then?
No council member should have the authority to make such drastic decisions in the borough on their own. It takes a majority of council to take such an action.
Twelve miles up the road in Lehighton, an entire community came together to restore the town's swimming pool that leaked, needed a new liner, had to have a chlorinating system installed, and other repairs made. The council stood 100 percent behind such improvements, and continues standing behind the pool operations. The council members even participated in some of the activities at the Lehighton pool.
The rebuilding of the pool in Lehighton made for a better community facility.
In Slatington, it took one lone council member to bring the swimming season to a complete halt. No council member should have that much power. This isn't the way local government is supposed to operate.
By Ron Gower