2014-09-06 / News

Can local community pools survive?

By Scott Rawdon

MILLERSPORT – Closing the Millersport Pool would be unfortunate for the community, said Fairfield County Commissioner, former Millersport Village Council president and Buckeye Lake Marina owner Dave Levacy.

“From a community standpoint, it’s very important to have recreation for young people,” he said. Levacy said the Millersport Pool has lost about $16,000 a year in recent years. This year it looks like it will lose about $7,200.

Millersport officials have discuss closing down the pool for good several times this year, but Levacy hopes the community can rally together to save an important Millersport asset. “I’m willing to help in any way I can,” he said.

Millersport Mayor’s Assistant Vince Popo said as of Aug. 31, the pool had 3,700 visits this summer over the 81 days it was open. He said as of Aug. 31 revenue from season passes, day passes, fundraising and concessions were roughly $27,200 while expenses were $34,797.05, for a loss of roughly $7,500. While that’s still steep, Popo said it was less than the $16,000 annual losses it’s experienced in recent years. He expects pool supporters to attend the next village council meeting to discuss what would be necessary to save the Millersport Pool.

“The pool’s old,” Popo said. This year, adult volleyball helped keep the pool afloat. “It really became popular,” he said, adding that it significantly helped the pool’s attendance. However, Popo said for the most part it’s tough to attract patrons older than eighth grade students to the pool, partially because of privately owned pools in the area.

Levacy said the Millersport pool would need a new pump if it were to open next year. He estimates it would cost roughly $4,000 for a rebuilt pump. Some leaks would need to be repaired as well. “That needs to be done,” he said.

Pool supporters haven’t given up. Just last week, volunteers took over the fried baloney sandwich booth at the Sweet Corn Festival., raising several thousand for the pool.

While all the numbers aren’t yet available, it appears as though the Thornville Pool fared a bit better.

“The pool did make a profit this year despite the cooler season this summer,” said Thornville Mayor Gavin Renner. He said overall annual memberships were lower than expected, however, daily walk-ins were higher. “My understanding is they offset one another,” Renner said. From an operations standpoint, Jodi Metzger managed the pool this year along with assistant manager Austin Dittoe. “Both did a fantastic job keeping the pool running smoothly,” he said.

Renner said there was one attempted break-in where individuals attempted to gain access to a cash register but failed. There were two incidents of vandalism, which police are investigating.

“Due to a major equipment breakdown, the village was forced to spend approximately $8,000 on a new pump and motor at the beginning of the year,” Renner said. Chemical use, which has been an issue in the past, was lower than expected, saving money. “We think that because the new equipment was more efficient that it contributed to lower chemical use, he said, thanking Village Administrator Beth Patrick for cutting short her vacation to deal with the issue.

Renner said the pool had to be drained and cleaned after a rainstorm early in the season. The village installed a barrier to prevent dirt and water from washing into the pool along Clum Drive. “This appears to have resolved the problem,” he said.

From a maintenance standpoint, the pool will likely require some basic maintenance, including special epoxy paint that costs $150 per gallon. “This year we spot painted, but did not do anything significant,” Renner said.

Village council members considered installing a liner, but the approximate cost is $50,000. “The village will still explore its options for keeping the pool operational,” he said. “The current income from the yearly operation of the pool is not enough to cover basic maintenance. I encourage residents to continue the legacy of past residents and support keeping this resource open. As a community, our village is richer because of the relationships that are developed by people of all ages who come together to use the Thornville Pool.”

Renner said plenty of hard work on behalf of many people kept the pool operational this year and he thanked Metzger, Dittoe, Patrick, Fiscal Officer Melissa Tremblay, Administrative Assistant Anna Cox, Street Department Supervisor J. Jennie, and Scott Vest, and Matt Stevens of the village’s water and sewer department for their work this year. “They did a great job keeping this resource available for the residents of Thornville and the surrounding area,” Renner said. “I appreciate it.”

“We broke even this year,” said Baltimore Administrator Scott Brown. “This summer was filled with a lot of rainy and cool afternoons. Additionally, the schools began almost two weeks before Labor Day.” He said as recently as five years ago, the local school districts were beginning their new years on the Wednesday before Labor Day. “Consequently, staffing and attendance are greatly affected,” Brown said.

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