Panel discusses closing town pool next summer

STRASBURG – The Strasburg Recreation, Parks and Trails Committee discussed Tuesday the possibility of closing the town pool next summer and reallocating its budget to renovating its aging systems.

The consideration comes in the wake of the reported $90,172 the pool lost this summer, according to data provided by Director of Finance Dottie Mullins.

The trend of operating at a hefty budget is not isolated to this summer. According to information Mullins distributed at Tuesday’s meeting, the pool lost $50,546 in 2015, $81,712 in 2014, and $56,085 in 2013.

Town Manager Ryan Spitzer floated the idea of closing the pool after discussion of how to staunch the flow of funds from it. He said because of the high school’s shortened summer break prior to the 2017-2018 school year, it makes financial and logistical sense for the pool to close for renovations.

“Since it’s only going to be four weeks, you can look into not even opening the pool next year and use the $103,000 that we budget to refurbish and improve the pool – put a down payment on some type of note to improve the pool,” he said.

School ends June 13 and starts again Aug. 7.

Most members of the committee responded positively to the idea. Mayor Rich Orndorff Jr. said the notion was pragmatic and sensible, given the situation.

“That’s not a bad idea at all because of the shortened season,” he said. “I think that makes a lot of sense.”

The committee decided it would look into how the closure would work and what renovations it would recommend to council at its November meeting.

According to Town Clerk Amy Keller, who works to coordinate pool logistics, 2016 was a difficult summer for operations. She said the pool underwent major repairs, management turnover became problematic, and participation in swim lessons and pool parties decreased. She said the town has already begun searching for a new pool manager.

Spitzer noted, “If you don’t make the pool better and upgrade it, we’re going to lose people to other towns.”

Briefing the committee on the repairs he performed at the pool this summer, Assistant Town Manager Jay McKinley said he replaced the main pump, baby pump, chemical controller, phase converter, and diving board. He said the pool is in better shape now because of it.

“This was an unusual year as far as repairs go, but we do have some new equipment downstairs, so I’d say it’s pretty functional at this point,” he said.

Looking forward, the committee will set its next meeting date at the November Town Council meeting. At that meeting, it will work on a recommendation for the council at a future date.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.

Correction: This story quoted Strasburg Town Manager Ryan Spitzer as saying the town pool has a budget of $503,000 for the summer of 2017. That figure should be $103,000.