WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – “I asked for the 10-year projection to see what the cost of three swimming pools would be,” said Mayor Jeff Smith.
The results arrived. The City Comptroller has released the findings of a study to project the cost of maintaining three swimming pools in Watertown in the 2031-32 financial year. The results show that it would cost the city at least $400,000 each of the next 7 years and over half a million dollars in the last 3 years.
“Do we need three swimming pools, 12 weeks a year, at this expense and at this cost? No one would do this with their own money,” Smith said.
Mayor Jeff Smith says it makes more sense to keep Thompson Park and Alteri Pools open. Council member Cliff Olney remains firm in his position to maintain the three pools. He says it’s too early to look at projected prices.
“It’s like hitting a mole right now for, you know, fear and irresponsible, reckless behavior. The mayor knows these numbers are preliminary,” Olney said.
Council member Lisa Ruggiero also wants to keep all three pools and agrees it’s too early to review those projected numbers, saying costs for materials, wages and pool hours could change.
She says the council needs to determine the exact cost of repairing the Flynn Pool first, as the city engineer estimates it would cost around $750,000 to repair. Ruggiero says the projected costs for maintaining two pools this year are about $250,000.
“In the realm of things, it’s a very small number when you look at everything else,” Ruggiero said.
On the other hand, Sarah Compo Pierce, council member, supports Mayor Smith. She says it’s not worth maintaining that third pool, especially when the hydropower contract is up at the end of the decade.
“We also have to make decisions today that put us in a good financial position for the end of this contract,” Compo Pierce said.
Compo Pierce suggested the idea of turning the Flynn Pool into a paddling pool-skating rink hybrid, saying it can be used year-round and would be cheaper than maintaining a swimming pool.
We contacted council member Patrick Hickey for this story, but he did not respond. He campaigned to keep three swimming pools in the city.
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