Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Hot Time in the Town
UPDATE: Thursday 6/9
So I'm now told that School Super Maria Geryk and Town Manager John Musante have been in negotiations for a month about possibly opening the Middle School Pool this summer as a public service (some would argue 'Public Safety Service'.) Let's keep our flippers crossed for a positive outcome.
With public schools not yet in summer recess, today's gorgeous weather will only serve as a distraction to our youth, but a month from now it will act as an oppressive tormentor. And the town will provide little respite.
Back in 2005 venerable Amherst Town Meeting approved spending $140,000 to refurbish the War Memorial Pool area "comfort station" (bathrooms) a 50 year old cinderblock structure that also serves as Stan Ziomek's office for all things baseball.
That money has sat in an account all these years and is only now being used for its original purpose. Meanwhile the town closed the adjacent War Memorial Pool two years ago due to either budget restrictions or maintenance issues (depending on who is spinning the facts) and current studies show the pool needs $175,000 for proper renovation.
Last month Town Meeting approved spending $65,250 in a last minute vote to give the pool a death row pardon this summer, but town officials quickly nixed the idea and decided to stash the cash as a downpayment towards the $175-k required "to do it right" for next year.
But that $65,000 was based on operation costs for a season. Since the pool usually generates $20,000-$25,000 in membership fees, Town Meeting was clearly thinking it worth $40,000 in business losses to keep kids happy.
So why not take $10,000 of that money and purchase pool memberships at Hampshire Athletic Club and distribute them to the most needed families in town? LSSE charges $85 for a one month pool pass (out of the reach of many families even if War Memorial was open for business) while Hampshire Athletic Club--with a well maintained indoor pool--only charges $69.
And if the town went to the owners with that much cash in hand, I'm sure they would institute a corporate non profit discount on those passes; plus if each person also kicked in $10 or $20 in matching monies, a couple hundred citizens could be well served.
Such a public/private partnership is a B-I-G win situation: Hampshire Athletic Club acquires new members at the slowest time of the year, the town helps facilitate a valuable public good and--most important--children get to cool off.