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Pools remain afloat

Matthew Artz
Friday October 04, 2002

A last minute effort by swimmers at the city’s Willard Pool to recruit more users will likely save it from a planned winter closure, city officials said Thursday. 

“I think there is a lot of energy for the community to rally with staff to make it [keeping Willard Pool open] a viable option,” said Lisa Caronna, director of the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront.  

The community pool at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Derby Street was set to close mid-November through mid-April as part of a city cost cutting measure. 

The city loses $47,000 keeping the pool open during winter months when usage is at its annual low, Caronna said. But plans to attract more winter swimmers to pay fees and help offset operating costs is reason to keep it open, she added. 

City Council is scheduled to decide the pool’s fate at its Oct. 15 meeting. 

Pool users have historically said that too few swimming programs and poor publicity are reasons for low winter turnout. 

But Wednesday, the recently formed Willard Swimmers Association [WSA] agreed to a deal with city officials in which swimmers will recruit residents for new pool programs and the city will provide instructors and advertising. 

“We’ve had interest in water aerobics, a masters [seniors] swim team and synchronized swimming,” said Karen Davis of the WSA. 

The pool controversy materialized in May when the parks department recommended closing both Willard Pool and West Campus Pool to help make $100,000 in required budget cuts.  

But last month, after vehement opposition from West Campus swimmers, the parks department offered a compromise plan that would keep West Campus open and close only Willard. 

City Council balked at the deal, however, and asked the parks department to consider ways to keep Willard open too. 

“I’m committed to keeping it open,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the pool. “It’s a horrible message to send to close Willard and keep the others open.” 


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