Brentwood pool rates slashed in effort to boost attendance
By Stephanie Hacke
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A slash in rates could be just what it takes to get more people to take a splash in the Brentwood Borough pool next year.
At least that's what borough officials say they are hoping for.
A decline in use of the municipal pool led council members to cut most rates for daily and summer passes nearly in half for 2014. Council members approved the changes on Nov. 26.
“It's just a matter of, how do we get more of the residents into the pool,” borough Manager George Zboyovsky said.
In 2011, 322 summer passes were sold for the pool, with 2,278 daily passes sold. In 2012, summer passes sold dropped to 296, while daily passes increased to nearly 2,500.
This year, there was an overall decline: 243 summer and about 1,400 daily passes were sold. The drop this year is due to the rain, Zboyovsky said.
Borough officials have looked at ways to get more people to use the pool, which operates at a $50,000 loss each year, made up for by municipal funds, Zboyovsky said. The pool is only open to Brentwood residents.
Surveys have been completed at the pool during the last several summers, attempting to determine what would bring more people out, Zboyovsky said. The answers are always the same: adding more amenities like a slide or a diving board.
“That pool really doesn't offer much to kids or families,” Councilman Rich Schubert said. “If anything, that pool's suited for adults. It's fairly peaceful. It's fairly empty.”
Improving amenities would be one way to change that, Councilman Pat Carnevale said.
“Do we invest X amount of dollars and put a slide in? The kids have got to have something down there,” Carnevale said. Improvements to the pool likely will occur, eventually, as Brentwood Park undergoes an $8 million overhaul, Zboyovsky said. The focus for improvements next year will include the replacement of the bleachers, improvements to the stadium area and walkways nearby the pool area, he said.
Until then, though, council members said they want to try something different - like changing the prices - to get more people to the pool.
Operating a pool at a loss is not an issue exclusive to Brentwood.
“The issue is, our demographics have changed to the point that we don't have like we had 30 years ago where mom was staying at home, dad was at work, mom took the kids to the pool,” Councilman John Frombach said. “Today you have mom and dad both working and again they'll go to Sandcastle on the weekends because it's so much more exciting.”
Operating at a loss
Baldwin Borough's pool, located behind the municipal building in the northern end of the municipality, operated on a nearly $115,000 budget in 2013. Of that, $50,000 came from a transfer from the borough's general fund, $31,000 from season passes, $23,000 from daily admission, $7,000 from pool parties and $1,500 from refreshment sales.
The majority of the costs, or $61,600, went to personnel, while the rest was spent on water, chemicals, maintenance and supplies, borough Manager John Barrett said.
“If this was a true business we'd probably say, then let's close it,” Barrett said. “I look at it as this is an amenity that we offer.”
Baldwin Council members have discussed ways to cut losses, including the idea of raising rates. They've only done that once, with what Barrett called a “modest bump” in rates last year.
Likely, though, it would take added amenities to bring in more people, Barrett said.
Whitehall's municipal pool was budgeted to lose about $90,000 in this year, borough Manager James Leventry said.
Getting people to the pool, though, isn't the problem, Leventry said.
The pool, open only to Whitehall residents — with 200 passes being sold to Baldwin Township citizens — typically attracts those from other communities who are turned away, the borough manager said.
“We usually catch a few people trying to sneak in,” Leventry said.
Limited parking and physical space around the pool on hot days requires officials to limit the pool's use, Leventry said.
Because the pool operates at a financial loss, it leads borough officials to keep the pool as a community-only amenity.
Rates likely will stay the same for residents in 2014, as council members discussed them while preparing the budget last month, Leventry said.
A family season pass, if purchased before the season starts, costs $200 at the discounted rate. A person pays $30 for a season pass if purchased before the pool opens and $40 if purchased after. A senior citizen pass is $10 all year.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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