City Council discusses airplane crash and Rexburg Rapids safety

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New Chamber of Commerce President, Janalyn Holt, shares her enthusiasm for the future relationship between the city and chamber. Photo credit: Elise Forbes

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Rexburg City Council began its semimonthly meeting.

Mayor Jerry Merrill welcomed attendees, including newly elected council members Colin Erickson and Robert Chambers, who sat in the audience.

The city recognized the service of Brett Sampson, who has stepped into a different role after serving as BYU-Idaho/community liaison. Merrill gifted the former liaison a blanket with the city seal and a message of gratitude.

Janalyn Holt was appointed as the new president of the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I am so excited and grateful (Chris Mann) has left the chamber in such good condition, really,” Holt said.

During the time for public comment, citizens took the opportunity to share their thoughts with the council.

Rexburg resident John Paul Johnson shared his concerns related to the relocation of the Rexburg Madison County Airport. On Halloween, an airplane lost power and crashed on Pioneer Road in Rexburg. Johnson expressed gratitude for the fact that no citizens were harmed in the unplanned landing but worried that the airport is not being relocated at a faster rate.

“If that happened on a Saturday, it would have just been an awful thing,” Johnson said.

An environmental impact study and pushback by individuals hoping to keep the airport in its current location could be slowing the process. However, Merrill expressed a desire to move forward with the change at a timely rate.

Other residents shared concern over a tent found at Nature Park and a desire for the return of a Rexburg Talent Show. The council planned to investigate the park, and it reported that the talent show would be returning.

Council member Tisha Flora, parks and recreation liaison, shared plans for a winter park with cross-country skiing and ice-skating. She also shared that new playground equipment will be installed at Nature Park in the spring.

Maegan Scholes, pool manager/programs coordinator at Rexburg Rapids, shared the successes and challenges faced by Rexburg Rapids as they prepare for next summer. Summer of 2021 was a good season for the water park, hitting record revenue through high ticket and concession sales as well as swim lessons. Matt Neilson, chief finance officer of Rexburg, described Rexburg Rapids’ success as “phenomenal.”

However, Scholes expressed some safety concerns. One of the staircases leading up to the slides has experienced wear that, according to Scholes, has caused it to become a slipping hazard. The stairs have also experienced issues with rust.

The City of Rexburg was faced with a lawsuit from a similar business in Idaho Falls earlier this year that claimed that Rexburg Rapids was infringing on its business model. However, Rexburg won the case, with the judge ruling that there was not sufficient cause to sue.

In order to increase availability for the public, Rexburg Rapids plans on decreasing availability for shelter reservations. They also are considering covering lifeguard training costs for individuals who plan on becoming lifeguards.

A makerspace will soon be coming to Rexburg. Makerspaces give creators the necessary resources to build prototypes, such as 3D printers. The space will accompany a coworking space opening in January as well as a new social media lab. The idea is to create more homegrown businesses in Rexburg. The project has been funded through a Blue Cross grant.

“That is all part of our emphasis on growing homegrown businesses rather than trying to offer hundreds of thousands of dollars to lure businesses to come here,” Merrill said.