Westmorland council approves pool renovation agreement and other actions

Westmorland’s pool will be getting the renovation it needs to reopen after years of no use after an agreement was reached between Imperial County and the city.

WESTMORLAND — Renovation of the Westmorland public pool, which has been bone dry and closed for many years, was approved with an agreement between Westmorland and Imperial County at the city council meeting Oct. 4.

The agreement made it possible for monies provided by the county to be used to fund the renovation of the pool. Mary Ann Smith, a Westmorland councilwoman and Parks and Recreation Commissioner, has said a full reconstruction of the pool would cost Westmorland too much money.

This comes as welcome news to a community compelled to use other options such as the Westmorland Water Days to entertain the city’s children and keep them out of dangerous canals.

Officials said work on the project will be finished by summer of 2018. The original Westmorland pool was built in 1938 thanks to the Works Progress Association (WPD) through President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program.

Other ongoing issues in the city include some community members asking City Council members Ana Beltran, Henry Graham, and Larry Ritchie to step down from their positions “for the good of Westmorland.” The recall effort comes after the council hired new Westmorland Police Chief Perry Monita, and revoked the titles illegally given to police officers by Council Member Smith.

The council also heard a presentation by Brawley Police Department Commander Brett Houser who explained a new service for automatic license plate readers that can be used by the Westmorland PD. The readers can quickly scan cars passing through the streets and will flag them if they are marked as stolen, involved in a crime, or involved in an Amber Alert.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us, especially with our position here in Westmorland,” said Westmorland Police Chief Monita.

The city council also approved two proposals that Chief Monita brought to the table for new gas masks and five new hand guns. Monita stated the hand guns are currently at Border Tactical and waiting to be picked up.

The council also approved shipping rifles found at the police department back to the sender, however, Monita said that ideally, the department would want to keep two of the rifles. One rifle was apparently unpacked and had been scratched due to what he believes was a fitting test for the mounts on one of the police vehicles. The chief added that Allstate insurance is willing to work with the Westmorland Police to make up for the cost of the scratched rifle by taking the department’s current old hand guns in exchange.

The council also heard that the police department will purchase three gas masks, canisters, and filters for a total of $1,189.66.

The gas masks and filters are essential, said Monita, especially after the review from the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA) stated the police department needed the safety equipment.

Monita also suggested the Westmorland Police Department building undergo an inspection to see if better security can be added, such as cameras and a more secure front desk.

The city council also approved repair work on a waterline that broke Monday and caused water pressure to drop in the city.