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State planning 'property grab' by ordering closure of Thermop pool

Apr 23, 2014 - Save the Teepee Pools, Thermopolis

Editor:

On Thursday April 10, citizens of Thermopolis found out that the state parks department would be making a property grab. The Tepee Pools in Hot Springs State Park has been instructed to shut down and demolish its building by May 6 by the state due to the lease agreement of the land being terminated.

Members of the Economic Development Committee of Thermopolis have confirmed that the committee met twice behind closed doors with the state parks officials and once with Gov. Matt Mead. The State Parks Division is planning for a new "first-class facility" that could be owned by the state and run by a private manager to replace the Tepee Pools.

There is controversy over the idea of the state owning a business, as this is not the function of government, and if it is ethical to compete against private businesses.

How can the state afford to build a multi-million dollar water park? Questions also have been asked about how the state could force a business to demolish its private property without compensation and making them pay for the demolition within 60 days.

Citizens have questioned why State Parks would shut down one of the community's biggest tourist attractions just before the tourist season opened. Citizens are questioning whether Gov. Mead and State Parks director Milward Simpson really had the community of Thermopolis in mind, as they say they did, when they made this decision.

Private citizens have asked themselves what they can do to protect their town, local business owners and themselves from this property grab. One Facebook group "Save the Tepee Pools" posted a petition to Gov. Mead to restore the Rainbow Terraces and save the Tepee Pools.

This group held a meeting April 16 at the Hot Springs County Museum, with 110 citizens attending. At the conclusion, another meeting was planned to invite state officials to speak to the citizens of Thermopolis and answer questions. Gov. Mead and Milward Simpson have been invited.

Gov. Mead turned down the invitation since he will be in Sweetwater county campaigning for re-election. This meeting will include speeches by local citizens and officials on the history behind the Tepee Pools and the current status of the pools.

The public is invited to attend, to support the Tepee Pools and, afterward, go swimming. The meeting is set for 2p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Pavillion in Hot Springs State Park.

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