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BrianM
February 6th, 2008, 05:29 PM
I need advice! The city I live in is going through the process of aquatic needs analysis. I need amunition to convince the City council/school district to continue the indoor pool. I believe that many citizens just want an outdoor/summer pool. The city contends that the indoor pool is a money loser. The High School's Team is highly ranked in the state of Missouri (Blue Springs) Any Ideas from anyone to convince the esteemed powers to be that year round swimming is necessary.

Ripple
February 6th, 2008, 08:39 PM
You could point out that swimming is a valuable life skill for children to learn and practice... and remind them of the rising obesity rates. Honestly, does any public pool make money? I don't think so, but they are considered worth having anyway in most municipalities.
It may be necessary to get a petition going among regulars at the pool that is being closed. The staff will probably be more than eager to keep it at the front desk for people to sign, as their jobs are on the line.

meldyck
February 6th, 2008, 08:53 PM
For crying out loud, LIBRARIES don't make money either but no one would suggest that we close them down. It's part of being a community. I really dislike the argument that exercise facilities shouldn't be built because they don't make money (as you may have detected from the tone of my response)!

ViveBene
February 6th, 2008, 10:27 PM
Hi Brian,
I think Ripple is on the right track. I'm not sure, from the title, whether it is a new pool or saving the old one for year-round use that is of concern.

I've never saved a pool (or anything), but I've read a bit about people saving things slated for tear-down. So here are some thoughts.

You probably won't win the $$ argument, at least not right away. You can win in the civic arena, the court of public opinion, etc.

How much time do you have? One thing to work on is to get an extra year's grace, so you have time to gather data, etc.

Does the entity that wishes to shut down the pool have the authority to do so? If this area is cloudy, try to get a copy of the document saying so.

A person with clout to lead the "save the pool" forces would be useful, a person of authority known to city and school district leaders.

Do you have use data? How many person-hours the pool is used each week or month? By whom?

What are the alternatives? How distant are the closest pools? What obstacles stand in the way of accessing those pools? Are there additional fees, perhaps for out-of-town use, that would create a barrier to low-income users? Does public transit go to those pools? (A dollar figure can be attached to increased emissions from driving, fees, social costs.)

A show of community interest would be important to critical. I don't know the best form: possibly a petition should be included, and here Leader with Clout can advise on wording ("integral to community," other honorable phraseology). A steering committee exhibiting diversity to match the town's might also be useful.

What programs are currently in place for use during school year? If none, can you get a pilot after-school program going in the extra year you will ask for? Giving neighborhood kids alternative after-school activities is very high on most communities' focus list, and sport is very good.

This kind of activity is also eligible for grant funding (emphasize community outreach). Most, not all, grantors allow for and expect "indirect costs," a fee that goes to the institution to pay facility operational costs.

If you get a program going, put maximum local PR behind it. Get a picture and an article in the local paper as often as possible. Run a profile of the coach, or a couple of participants. How is the existing team's PR handled? Are the mentions limited to sports pages, or can the team activities be worked into the main pages, to raise community awareness? Can the team sponsor a community health day, or something similar? (Maybe put up big posters of them in Speedos reading books for National Library Month.)

Every brick and tile in the place can be sold for a naming fee. The entire facility can be renamed The John Doe Rich Oilman Natatorium - for a consideration. Five years later rename it again, for another consideration.

In your position, I would like to know, why the pool? Is the town / school district broke in all ways? Who made the decision? Are all activity centers being subjected to the same scrutiny? For what other facilities is closure contemplated? I would not at all promise to make the pool a profit center but would work to show how deeply it is imbricated in civic life (also educational life) - and then make sure that part is a reality.

Buy time, open a line of communication with the entity planning to close the pool, get a Leader, work on the programs, marshall public sentiment. A soft, considerate approach - "We'd like to understand your concerns a little better" - might at least elicit their reasoning. A negative outcome may still be in the cards.

Good luck, VB

craiglll@yahoo.com
February 8th, 2008, 03:56 PM
1. Many public libraries aren't supported totally by public funds. Many are private nonprofit orgnizaitons that receive tax dollars.

2. I live in a town that has an indoor pool that is, I think, owned by the school board but managed by the park district. It has trememdous problems when somehting goes wrong. Then because Illinios has a law that forbids adults to be in a lockerroom while students are changing, the adult lap time during hte noon hour is always short. Many people propose that the two grous build a pool together. I once took a class in recreation management and the professor stted that this always ends up being a devil's bargin. Rec depts and schools have goals that rarely meet.

In my hometown, on the other side of the state, people got together and formed an education foundation. The foundation raised money. The donations were a tax deduction for the donors. The foundation built the pool and administers it. The foundation rents the pool to the school and to the Y for various uses. This seems to work out really well. No one was to worry about stepping on toes, making quick decisions without informing all of the stakeholders (sorry for the jargon, I;m a fund-raiser). I would always vote for this type of situation. There is so much flexibility.

Rob Copeland
February 11th, 2008, 01:54 PM
Brian,

Get in touch with Mel Goldstein, USMS National Partner Liaison, he has a variety of materials regarding how best to approach local governments to get aquatic facilities budgeted and built.

christineL
February 13th, 2008, 12:35 PM
I have no idea of how Stoughton, WI managed to get a BRAND new pool that is the best in our swimming area even though we had an ok pool - many competing teams want to work here in our pool. But, I did recall that there were a lot of lobbying from volunteers. I think that what helped to get the voters to ok the build of the new pool was the liability associated with jumping off from the block onto shallow water. Plus, a lot of parents complain about how they couldn't stay in the same room while their kids take lessons. Use "kids" to help you?? You may want to call the pool director for help?

Look at how beautiful the pool is....
//www.stoughtonaquaracers.org/mediagallery/media.php?s=20080208203307290

I as a mom really do love sitting up there where I can get to see my girls swim!

tjburk
February 13th, 2008, 01:42 PM
I live in one of the fastest growing counties in GA and what do we have to swim in? A couple of 1950s cement ponds!!!! That break every year for at least 2-3 weeks each!!!! AAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

4 high schools sharing one 6 lane 25 yard cement pond is not conducive to adequate training, let alone good training!!! Houston County High School that I help coach lost about 2-3 weeks total of training due a heater breaking, bubble being blown down, pump breaking.....It's absolutely ridiculous!!!!!!

:frustrated::frustrated::frustrated::frustrated:

christineL
February 13th, 2008, 02:00 PM
What is so amazing is that your pool does sound like it needed to be replaced twenty years ago!?! My old pool was only 30 years old when we built a new one. It was suitable for lap swimming. What is worse is that people in my town are tightwad when it comes to spending. For example, we are known for the state of Wisconsin on spending less money per student and still produce excellent students. I truly do wish I know how lobbyists manage to get a new pool for our town. :dunno:

BrianM
February 15th, 2008, 05:06 PM
I am overwelmed by all your responses. I have taken notes and am rallying a letter writing campaign to the city admin,council and school district. There is a good chance that our high school girls team could win state this weekend (02/15-2/16). If this occurs I believe the city and school district will unite in a front to find the money for a quality indoor venue. Thanks again

ViveBene
February 15th, 2008, 06:45 PM
Good luck, both with the meet and with the pool!
This looks like a story idea for the mag: pools that got saved (or freshly built) through community or private foundation interest, and, on the other hand, the sad, sad outcome in too many cases.

Chicago lost multiple fine old, deep pools last year (one mine).

Do you have some local news coverage (with a picture) of the girls going to state? If not, that's an easy step into the public eye. If so, that's part of the PR campaign and copies can be included in packets to educate decision makers.

Regards,:wave: write again,

VB