Community pools are a tricky endeavor. Some can become a drain on already tight budgets, while others bring in more revenue than a multitude of other recreation activities combined.
Right now, Kendrick Pool is one of the former.
Staff members from the Sheridan Recreation District have said the pool had a net loss of $18,406 last year. For a pool that is only open three months out of the year, that is a huge deficit.
Perhaps the maintenance costs of an aging pool are what caused the loss. Or, it could be the bare bones entrance fees the district charges for entrance to the pool — just $3 for adults between 1-5 p.m. and $2.25 for kids between 3 and 7 years old. After 5 p.m., those prices drop by $.25.
While the Kendrick Park Ice Cream stand profits were able to offset the budgetary loss from the pool last year, should the long-term plan of the Recreation District be to rely on the ice cream stand to break even?
Last summer, the pool had an attendance of 18,766 swimmers. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but many of those swimmers are likely habitual users of the pool. They are also the most likely to support building a new one and respond to a survey gauging support for a new pool.
In a survey conducted by the Recreation District last year that had about 630 responses, 95 percent thought Sheridan should have an outside pool and about 90 percent thought the pool should stay where it is.
The Recreation District and a committee of area residents interested in making a new Kendrick Pool a reality have been working for months on designs and potential funding options.
Organizers of the cause are hoping to be considered for the Capital Facilities Tax renewal that is expected to be on the ballot this fall.
But, when asked how the new pool should be paid for, only 34 percent of responses to the Recreation District survey said the Capital Facilities Tax should be considered. Traditionally, the Capital Facilities Tax is used for infrastructure projects such as roads and water and sewer projects. An amenity such as a new pool doesn’t quite seem to fit in that niche.
Between 77 and 82 percent of respondents to the survey said the other options offered (Optional One-Cent Sales Tax, grants, private donations/foundations and fundraising) should be considered. In addition, 87 percent of those who responded said they would be willing to pay more for more or improved features.
Funding for a new Kendrick Park pool should be found somewhere other than the Capital Facilities Tax when so many of our roads are still in need of repair and the city of Sheridan continues to line up projects for improved infrastructure.