By Jenny Johnson – In a 4-3 vote the Wayne City Council decided to close the pool at the Wayne Community Center on Feb. 22. Councilmen Albert Damitio, David James and Skip Monit voted no.
This is one way the city is trying to chip away at a $600,000 deficit in the current fiscal year and an estimated deficit in 2015-16 budget.
The pool was closed for one year in 2011 as a cost saving measure and the Community Center saw a 34% reduction in membership according to Juan Bradford, parks and recreation director.
“Based on history we expect the numbers to be similar (this time),” he said. They have begun taking a list of people who want to cancel their memberships due to the pool closing.
A yearly membership included the aquatic area, cardio and weight rooms, wet and dry sauna and 10 fitness classes.
Now memberships will include everything but the pool and aquatic classes. Members will still be able to use the track above the pool and fitness equipment in the aquatic viewing area.
The locker rooms in the aquatic area will be closed. It is estimated that closing the pool will save about $70,000 per year.
During the 2013 calendar year it cost $382,584 to operate the pool. Revenues during that same time were $157,591.
Pools have high operating costs, Bradford said. Even if they are only used for a few hours a day they still have to be heated, treated and maintained 24 hours a day. It would be difficult to break even on the operating costs.
Eighteen part time parks and recreation employees were laid off and three other employees now have reduced hours.
“The pool is a family oriented area and we need to find a way to replace that with something with lower operating costs,” Bradford said. Unfortunately there is not a way to repurpose the pool the same way the ice arena can be converted for other sports.
The ice arena at the Community Center is also closed because it operated at a loss that the city can no longer afford to offset.
“My focus is to be able to implement programming in the closed down ice arena that could be good for our youth,” Bradford said.
City Council will have a study session at 7 p.m. on March 17 to discuss options for the Wayne Community Center.