Synchronized Swimming?


There has been a lot of talk about turning Lake Worth’s liabilities back into assets, and the Golf Course is an example of doing just that.  However when it comes to the City Swimming Pool at the beach the Commissioners need to take a hard look at the economic realities of our pool and the national trend towards municipal aquatic parks.

Stand alone “rectangular pools” are a thing of the past and even our pool’s location by the beach is not enough of an attraction to draw people on a regular basis or attract swim meets.  Across the nation older municipal pools are being shut down, often replaced by aquatic parks that cater to whole families.  No amount of “out of the box marketing” can succeed in bringing people to a facility that is no longer viable in today’s recreation market.

Swimming lessons and water aerobics can still be held in a smaller pool, and the other features will be attractive to summer camps, handicapped organizations and others to rent.  A quick internet search reveals that even public facilities that retain olympic sized pools are installing more family friendly features to cater to a larger customer base and increase revenue.

With the Casino redesign at hand, now is the time to cast aside the sentimental clamor to patch up our city’s biggest white elephant and plan for a water park that will provide families with what they want and attract enough users to make it self-sustaining.

Click here for the  professional view on making a public pool profitable.

Excerpts:

In the current era of public pools, size, design, and management need to be planned even in the infancy of the project.

What kind of features does the public want and what should a pool have to offer? These are 2 main question when proposing pool projects.  Understanding consumer behavior is also important when designing proposals.

There are 2 main consumer behavior facts that pool developers and the city government need to take into account when building a new pool facility or adding on to an existing pool.

The first fact is that people spend more time on the deck than in the water and they want to come to a pleasant environment (Turner, 47). Therefore, the whole atmosphere is just as important as the pool and its features. Greenspace, lounge furniture, shaded chairs/tables, along with quality concessions adds to the ambience and experience of patrons (Turner, 47).

In fact these items are not only add to the pool experience but are often expected by customers in order to assure future attendance. The second fact is that the overwhelming majority enjoys participatory aquatic entertainment for the entire family (Turner, 48). To accommodate the whole family and provide entertainment, many new popular pool features have been added. 0 depth children’s pools are extremely popular as are jungle gyms, mini-waterslides, and fountains (Turner, 48). Two public pools in the Upper-Midwest, Eau Claire, WI and Apple Valley, MN, have 0 depth children’s pools. These shallow areas are in fact the most crowded sections in each respective facility. Apple Valley also had fountains and a mini-waterslide, 2 special attractions for kids. Attractions for older kids and adults include special waterslides (speed, intertube), log walks, and diving boards (Turner, 48).

Families want these extra features and do not just want a common pool with lap swim. The young and old want entertainment equipment at the pool and this is what draws people on a weekly or daily basis.

Schooled in Aquatics, Waterpark Trends from the College Campus to the Municipal Center

Excerpts:

“Competitive swimming will always be a priority. Swim teams consistently draw kids and teens. Swimming competitively keeps them occupied in a healthy way and often teaches them their first lessons about sportsmanship. Especially now that there’s so much concern about childhood obesity, no one is going to take swim teams away.

“But the fact is, competitive swimming rarely pays for itself. It’s a community win, but it’s not a financial win.”

Lake Worth is not alone when it comes to being saddled with an outmoded municipal pool. Below is a small sampling of articles on the internet:

Vinton to pull plug on municipal pool after 60 years

Citing budget woes, Davenport may close its public pool after nearly 80 years

The Cleveland Municipal Pool will not open this year.

Huber Heights will not reopen its pool this summer after 40 years

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8 Comments on “Synchronized Swimming?”

  1. Skippy Says:

    Jo-Ann sure is looking buff!

    I, too, am sentimentally attached to the pool. But I think that an aquatic park will help pay for the casino upgrades. And the casino upgrades MUST happen this time around. So let’s all cry a tear and move on.

    There’s always the pool at LWHS.


  2. Are you working for the City yet?

  3. Steve Says:

    Still waiting for that research, huh Tom? Please post it when ms. congeniality sends it over.

  4. pietro Says:

    The problem here is the hardened opinions people have adopted from the git go. That is a problem with the discussion, not the pool. And it may prevent agreeable folk from being able to agree.

    Valid historic perspective and research being presented by many supports claims they have already staked out. To quickly draw a parallel, this is the error of process that is ongoing with the discussion of Bryant Park. Too many -mostly staff, some public- compounded sins of omission with sins of commission, and vice versa; and where have we ended up. (Ironically, the person least guilty of this is the much assailed Suzanne Mulvehill.)

    In the abstract, this flaw of process is obvious; and may be informed by considering the distinction between the exercise of reason and the exercise of reasoning. One operative assumption may be that the former is an objective value and the latter an argumentative display of confirmation bias.

    Back to the pool. There are many questions that need to be asked, answered, and contextualized.

    Let’s start with the historic -instead of the histrionic- for a change, and then move forward. A short list: How did we get here. Where are we. Where do we want to go. I’ll suggest that we are haggling over the third question without good answers to the first two, but so be it.

    So, to be economic -with the discussion- at the outset:
    What man-made aquatic feature[s] should be maintained, abandoned, or newly considered for our municipal beach?
    What are the feasible means of capitalizing the various options, in addition to other pros and cons?
    What opportunities/circumstances either present or prohibit concurrence with other beach projects?
    What are the broad, and specific, expectations of the community regarding the outcomes from any decisions taken?

    I am throwing in these last two because it seems to me we need to start looking at a larger picture, through cogent interaction, in order to execute a coherent plan for our community’s development. And if anyone thinks any of this -re: the pool, the beach, or the meta- is going to be accomplished soon, I’ll respectively submit that you’re wrong.

    Look at the timelines for the two beach projects, they are not likely to be completed until after Lake Worth’s centennial. The bidding for the construction phase of the beach landscaping is not slated to be completed until February 2012. Tack on another year for construction (possibly subtract a few months for efficiencies of process along the way.)

    I am healthfully skeptical whenever anybody says “we have to act now” when doing so interferes with responsible deliberative process, and when no one can answer, ‘Oh, really. What do we lose by taking our time?’

    At the end of the day the talk is what is cheap. Especially compared to repeating the expense of poor decisions, urgently taken, and improperly executed before the conflicted interest in arguments made can be ferreted out. That may sound complex to some. I believe it is the epitome of simplicity to build clarity, transparency, and empathy into all of our communications.

    Power is most powerful when shared by many. film critic … can I get an ‘amen?’

  5. Lisa Maxwell Says:

    Tom

    Thank you for doing some research and for posting your perspective. While I agree that a multi-faceted aquatic park would be (in a perfect world) a terrific addition to our city, I don’t believe we have the resources to pay for these kinds of upgrades. Your research is from locations where pools are only open during certain times of the year of if indoor – are minimally utilized when the temperature drops below freezing. Having spent some time in Madison WI during the winter – I can’t imagine anyone thinking about taking a dip.

    Consequently, I think that this data comes from a perspective where the facility has to earn dollars in a very limited time period each year and probably is very under utilized at all other times – begging the question among tax payers as to why are we paying for this white elephant?

    LW has the luxury of being able to use our pool year round. We offer one of the very few venues in the Country and probably world-wide where competitive swim teams can come to train and compete. This is why the Italien Team was slated to come this year before the closure. These teams generate public interest, and tends to spread tourist dollars around our town.

    If we can’t afford an aquatic theme park, and we have to upgrade our pump and motor facilities anyway – why not explore the interim measure of getting our existing facility back up and running so that we can take advantage of the demand for the existing facility. These teams pay top dollar to the city to rent our facility. Some income is better than no income and once the facility has not been used for a period of time, it becomes more and more expensive to get it back up and running at a later date.

    Lake Worth seems to have a habit of throwing up hands when it is seems difficult to make a decision and we always end up paying more for it in the end. I appreciate your providing a place to discuss this Tom and I hope we can continue to gather perspectives on this important topic.


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