Summertime recreational fun of cooling off with family and friends or swimming laps as part of a fitness routine at the Sunnyside pool should be open to all, even on Saturdays – an entire day of private pool rental availability, from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. prohibits community-wide accessibility of the city’s downtown public attraction.

During the city’s series of budget workshops that were conducted last year, a recommendation was made and approved by council to reduce summer operational pool costs by renting aquatic facilities and staff out during Saturdays. Thereby, effectively closing the public pool for the day.

The $175 hourly reserved rate, which must be reserved two weeks in advance and includes up to 150 guests, appears to be more important than providing the general public with an opportunity to participate in Saturday swimming activities.

Instead of limiting pool access from the analyzed data that public use is typically less on that day, the proposal should be to increase lower valley attendance by offering a variety of programs which capitalize to attract visitors – establish the pool as a summer weekend destination of planned activities and events.

This would also advance the pool rental side or portion of the facility which should be in alignment with public usage, community involvement and overall support. The responsible approach would foster a proactive environment where mixed use would benefit everyone.

The information presented by city staff about the fiscal operations indicates the pool is a “cash cow” and it’s their responsibility to examine and manage costs associated with the public facility.

However, when looking over financials and budget issues, there are times when the numbers don’t balance or account for the quality of life services provide, which can’t always be quantified on a spreadsheet.

Officials have stated that this is a pilot program and staff will be re-evaluating the rental service once the pool closes on August 15.

Hopefully, there will be an opportunity for the public to participate in the upcoming process and dive into the community issue of making the Sunnyside pool a summertime destination.

Patrick Shelby for the Sunnyside Sun editorial board.

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