City’s future in aquatics business is cloudy at best

The City of Williamsport is down to one operational swimming pool as the summer ends. The real question addressed by City Council’s finance committee last week was whether there will be any open next summer. “Should the city be in the aquatics business or not?” Councilman Randall J. Allison asked out loud at the meeting.

While there are reasons to answer “yes” to that question recreation opportunities are one tool for keeping kids out of trouble in the summer there are at least as many rational “no” answers to that question.

For starters, restoring the Memorial Park pool to opening condition would cost $1 million at least. The finance committee voted against amending a $250,000 grant application to apply for the same amount of money to repair and maintain the East End pool. Mayor Gabriel J. Campana has suggested a battery of grants to cover all needed work to keep at least End End pool open, although he pulled a grant resolution from the City Council agenda last week pending a core test and plumbing inspection..

And Councilman Liz Miele said she’s received feedback from residents who want Memorial Park pool reopened. It would be nice if that feedback were a guarantee of future increases in pool usage, but that’s not a reliable premise based on pool usage numbers of recent years.

Councilman Allison’s question had an easy “yes” answer three or four decades ago. But much has changed since then and we wonder if a city operating on a shoestring budget with looming fiscal questions that will affect city operations for decades can afford to maintain and operate swimming pools.