Fun in the sun, but is it too much sun?
Whether the city would like to adjust pool hours may be a moot point.
The City of Warren’s Parks and Recreation Commission invited Wendy Boger to attend its Tuesday meeting to discuss concerns with pool hours she had outlined in a letter received by the city last month.
In her letter, Boger urged a change in pool hours to extend them later in the evening, both to accommodate families who cannot attend during the day due to work and because of concerns over sun exposure during peak intensity hours.
However, according to commission members, it isn’t as simple as just moving the hours as they see fit.
“Our hands are somewhat tied because we have limited staff for us to work with,” Chairman Dennis Crandall said. “If you start splitting up times the kids work you lose even more and then it’s difficult to even keep the pool open. We understand your concerns about the heat.”
Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau pointed out the pool has some lifeguards coming more than 20 miles from Jamestown, N.Y., for their shifts, making the number of hours available for them to work at one time a concern.
She noted the city is looking at alternative options to try to vary hours next year, including sharing a staff pool of lifeguards with the Brokenstraw Valley Swimming Pool in Youngsville.
Besides issues with providing lifeguards hours, city staff noted the pool is working on a limited budget, limiting the city’s options.
“I grew up in Florida. I’m dealing with all kinds of skin damage,” Boger said. “I don’t want my kids out in the midday sun and by the time we eat lunch, it’s 3 or 3:30 and the pool is closing… My husband doesn’t get out of work until 5. He can never come to the pool.”
After hearing city cost concerns, Boger also suggested the city try to collaborate with a mothers’ club she is a part of to work on brainstorming and fundraising.
City staff said they would welcome the support and went on to outline the financial situation of a municipal pool.
Director of Public Works Mike Holtz noted there are expenses beyond the day-to-day operational costs at the pool due to constant maintenance and capital projects which must be completed to keep it open.
As an example, he noted a planned improvement project to update the restrooms and first aid area at the pool and bring them into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance is slated to cost approximately $200,000. While the city can obtain grant money to pay for part of the work, it requires a 50 percent match, or approximately $100,000, from the city.
“The pool will never be self-funding,” Holtz said. “I don’t think anybody thought it would be… It’s a service and a well-attended service.”
Nau noted people in surrounding areas utilize the pool and their future support could be crucial to keeping the facility open as city budgets continue to tighten.
“We need the people in the surrounding townships to support our pool,” Nau said.
City Manager Nancy Freenock agreed, and added, “We’d like to see them put a line item in their budgets.”