No Community Swimming Pool For Connell This Summer, Here’s Why
We had a call from a listener saying Connell will not be opening its community pool this summer because City officials 'Forgot' to put it in this years operating budget! We investigated and that's not quite the case...
Here's the statement from our interview with Connell City Administrator Jed Crowther:
“Connell not opening pool this summer. Last fall the budget constraints made it so city made priorities, and pool on docket for closing. Reviewed strategies to make viable long term. Met with YMCA and different methods to make it more feasible to operate.
We made a lot of improvement in the 2014 season, tightened scheduling and increased fees. Saw increased participation even though a shorter season. Crux of problem is over years city has spent reserves to help prop up pool operation, which operates at a loss. In 2015 budget season, became obvious no reserve funds to tap into. That kicks us into a community outreach and seeking sponsorships... to operate in 2016 season.
In longterm we've met with Franklin County to come up with longer term solutions. Various methods there reviewed with Steve Marks, Franklin County assessor. Would put on ballot in November. Pool is 38 years old. Slides added in 2009 or so. As far back as I can tell the pool operated at a loss. Our projection for 2016 season is $18000 and cost 102,000. Doesn't necessarily have to break even, but needs a certain level of cost recovery to be sustainable. That's where we've pursued other options..
What I've heard is the larger slides popular the first season, after the initial thrill wore off... not so much. Consequently we have to have to lifeguards at top and bottom and those go unused quite a bit of the time. Creative scheduling to make slides less available to reduce cost of staffing those. Primary usage is pool itself. We did improve attendance from 2014. At a daily average of 85. Then 111 and that was open less days. We made noticeable improvement, but still ran up against constraint. Had to prioritize our needs. It's no secret pools are expensive to own, operate and maintain.
We received complimentary remarks from YMCA that we're doing a lot right in our administration of pool. He did not find problems, found we're doing a lot of things right. Still evaluating and looking for methods to restore that function here in Connell.”