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Park board weighing public pool fees

Tue., May 5, 2009, 7:09 a.m.

After a two-month break, the Spokane Park Board tonight will resume consideration of a proposal to charge children to swim in public pools.

The issue has caused controversy on and off for the past few decades. The city has only charged youths to swim one summer out of the nearly 100 years it’s had pools.

Park leaders have crafted a proposal that they say strikes a balance between keeping parks accessible to low-income residents and balancing the budget. Their plan would keep pools open 44 hours a week and charge kids a $2.50 entry fee during 24 of those hours.

Last year, pools were open 31 hours a week with no fees on kids.

Some neighborhood leaders say that the pools are essential to giving kids a positive activity in the summer and that many families can’t afford a fee.

The plan, they say, significantly cuts the number of hours of free swimming, making it more likely they’ll risk swimming in the Spokane River.

The board will accept testimony on the proposed fees at 6:30 tonight at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

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