June 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE It was standing room only Monday night at Enterprise City Hall when citizens came to question why the city decided at a recent budget committee meeting to close the municipal swimming pool.

For nearly three hours some three dozen people, including children, objected to the pool closure and offered suggestions.

Mayor Susan Roberts appointed seven of the audience to a committee to meet with three councilors after July 4 to search for a solution.

The citys final budget meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. June 27. It would still be possible to amend the proposed budget at that meeting.

I swam in the pool last year, councilor Jeff Courtney said. What we have is better than nothing.

Courtney said he would like to see the leaky pool patched and operating this summer, then have an engineering study done this fall to determine what can be done.

The decision to not operate the pool was made to reconcile a $33,000 shortfall in the citys $1.4 million budget.

If a cut is made, Courtney wants to make that reduction in the police department, which he said is overstaffed. The 24-hour police department could go to 12-hour shifts, he said.

Some in the audience questioned why the city still maintained a fifth police department position that was created in 1995 through a COPS grant that no longer pays any part of the position.

There will be one less police officer after Thursday, when Donovan Shaw, the police chief of nine years, retires.

Sgt. Roger Wagner will be the interim chief until the council decides on a replacement, Mayor Roberts said.

The council has budgeted to conduct an engineering study of the pool, which will cost as much as $15,000, Roberts said.

The pool is not safe in its current condition, she said, and it needs to be closed one or two seasons to determine what can be done to fix the leak. The pool is believed to be losing 2,000 gallons of water each week and the crumbling Gunite pool liner has been coming off in unprecedented amounts this year.

Crumbling or leaking also may be the citys budget, and one councilor ties the problem to a property tax reduction measure that Oregonians passed in 1990.

Measure 5, supported in the metropolitan areas, has killed the little areas, veteran councilor Irv Nuss said.

Were not able to keep the young kids here, he said, agreeing with others who spoke of elementary school teachers losing jobs because enrollment is down as families leave the area due to a lack of jobs.

As as example, since D.J. Januzzi acquired the U-Haul franchise in 1992, his best year was $56,000 he said. It was $60,000 the last six months.