Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What to do about the Pool? The Process of Decision.


Some thoughts, and some facts from the  5.2.2013 Cheshire Community Pool Meeting.


The sense here in town is that the pool is a good thing. The overwhelming wish is to get it right this time. The users of the town pool include the very young and the very seasoned, the uber-fit,  the rehabbing injured, the differently abled, the exuberant Zumba ladies, the sugar-fueled birthday party goers,  the hard-working high school teams, the scuba crew,  the frazzled families and their friends. The membership and usage at the pool has grown in leaps and bounds. It is a popular resource and it's absence for a few months was a huge hole in the daily lives of many in our community.


Our pool is an oddity in terms of its standing as an asset in the town. There is no other service that is a standalone entity on the town's budget. The WPCA would be the closest and even that does not reflect the principal and interest on any of the costs of the debt related to it. Other town facilities fall under Public Works for building maintenance and repair. Not the pool. All these costs come out of the pool's own budget.  (minutes of 5.2.13 CCP Committee Meeting) When we think of assets like the Senior Center and the Library we cannot compare apples to apples. The pool simply costs less than those.

A shocking number came out of the very first meeting of the CCP Committee Meeting. Ms. Adams, The Aquatic Director, stated that the pool brings in $600,000 annually in revenue. There is no way, even if we all forgot our library books that other assets could generate that kind of revenue.


We also forget that our swim teams host huge State Championship meets several times a year. As well as attracting in swimmers to the local team on a regular basis they also bring in hundreds of carloads of hungry swimmers and their families who stay in the area for up to four days at a time for large meets. A captive audience, a spending boom of carb-gobblers from the entire state. Our economically hammered Main Street needs all the customers it can capture.


The committee is tasked with coming up with a viable solution. Taken directly from the minutes " The committee must make a decision on a design to be recommended and provide support and evaluation of the pros and cons of its selection, along with the pros and cons of the design which was not selected, all the financial aspects, cost of structure, cost of operation, and life cycle costs." As well as being a very long run on sentence that is also a very tall order for a motley crue of members. The committee is made up of town council members, pool users from different groups, public works, town citizens who are skeptical, and supporters. It is wonderful to have the skeptics. It keeps everyone thinking from all points of view. Some of the more skeptical were surprised by the figures, the structural challenges and the history of the pool. Some admitted that they had preconceived notions that had been blown away by the meeting. It was a great venue for all concerns to be aired.


The committee outlined in general the various options that they would be exploring. That, Pool Friends,  is our next installment.