Heat brings big splash at city, county pools
A hot summer has translated to record-breaking revenue and admissions at Spokane pools.
Capacity crowds day after day at Spokane County pools have caused a budget deficit and necessary staff increases, according to the county. Conversely, a new tracking system shows that both admissions and revenue are up at the pools.
To make up the shortfall, Spokane County Parks and Recreation is seeking an additional $23,000 from county commissioners to remain open and cover staff costs. Spokane County manages the Northside and Southside family aquatics facilities and the Liberty Lake Regional Park, a lakefront swim area.
Figures for usage at city of Spokane pools weren’t immediately available.
The Spokane Parks Foundation’s Make A Splash in a Kid’s Life program grants pool pass scholarships as well as swim lessons and swimsuits for kids from low-income families. This year, the foundation handed out 1,940 pool passes in Cheney, Spokane Valley, Spokane County and the city of Spokane, using a new punch-card system with a potential of 17,167 swims. Program administrators say the family pool pass program likely will exceed their goal to put 3,000 kids in pools this summer.
Spokane Valley gave out more than 300 passes this summer, according to Spokane Valley Partners’ David Stone.
Both Spokane County and Spokane Valley give out scholarships, but Carl Strong, a recreation supervisor for the city of Spokane, said he has had some concerns about the program because of his observation of unused passes.
The punch-card system is designed to more accurately track pool use.
The challenge is to pinpoint the need and meet it; Strong believes the answer may be in local youth groups. The focus should be on “teaching kids to swim, having a support group to take them to the pools, and getting them excited about the water,” he said.
According to Chris Hoppe, recreation program manager at Spokane County, pool attendance at the county’s three facilities last year was 47,777 people. With the new tracking system, there have been 51,130 people this year to date, with two more weeks of prime summer swimming.
Admission revenue to date for the Southside Aquatic Center is $84,027, compared to $78,015 for all of last year. Northside Aquatic Center admissions are $37,228 to date, compared with $33,360 in 2013.