Should the Layton Surf-N-Swim pool be kept open during the winter season, despite the $200,000 spent annually from the city's general fund to subsidize it?
This issue was addressed for almost 90 minutes by the City Council last week. Although approximately 100 people attended the meeting to hear discussion of the pool question, it was not an official public hearing and no decision was made."We're not here to make a decision on the pool tonight," Councilman Jerry Stevenson said. He said the issue will be decided during hearings on next year's city budget.
In the meantime, Mayor James J. Layton said, concerned individuals should address opinions or suggestions to him in writing regarding year-round use of the pool.
The city pays approximately $100,000 each year to repay bonds used for the pool's construction. The remaining $100,000 of the subsidy goes for operating costs not covered by user fees.
Dean Allen, Recreation Department director, said about 130 people a day use the pool during the fall, about 200 people use it during the January-to-May period and 340 people a day use it in the summer months. He also explained that no city pool in Utah breaks even, let alone makes a profit.
"As a parks person, I'm biased, but I'd hate to lose it," Allen said. "I think you have to find out if the service is valuable enough to (justify) support . . . the pool is a great community attraction, the only indoor pool in the city."
The "bubble" used to cover the pool during the fall, winter and spring cost $250,000, in comparison to the pool's overall $2.2 million cost.
Councilwoman Lyndia Graham suggested that the city determine the bubble's remaining years of use and consider that factor before just storing it away somewhere if the pool is only to be open in the summer. And the extra cost incurred each season to close and reopen the pool was another question.
The council also talked about how other recreation programs could be expanded using some of the money now spent on the year-round pool.
Several residents expressed brief opinions on the pool:
- The council should think in terms of service, not economics, on the pool issue.
- There should be no pool at the new high school now under construction in Layton.
- One resident said his children like a regular pool, not a wave pool, so they use the Clearfield pool instead.
Council member Kent Dee Smith suggested that the city send out a questionnaire regarding the pool's use in order to get a better feel for public opinion.
Graham suggested having a vote of residents on the pool issue and even the possibility of a vote on raising the city's franchise tax on utilities to better support the pool and/or city parks.