Council members sink fees for city pool

The Thompson Park pool in Watertown, pictured soon after its grand opening last August. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Should the city of Watertown impose fees for admission to the public swimming pool?

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WATERTOWN — People might have to pay a fee to go swimming in the city’s pool in Thompson Park as soon as this summer.

City Council members are expected to discuss on Monday a proposal to charge swimmers $3 per person for city residents and $4 for non-city residents.

Scott M. Weller, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent, came up with the fee structure that includes group rates and season passes after council members discussed the idea during this spring’s budget deliberations.

Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero wants council members to discuss the fees at Monday night’s meeting.

“Definitely, we should not be charging city residents at all,” she said, adding there should be more discussion about fees for nonresidents and groups.

Councilman Ryan Henry-Wilkinson said he’d be afraid that having the small fee would chase families away if they had to pay it, especially if they already fund the operation and maintenance of the pool when they pay city taxes.

He would like to explore maybe renting the pool out for birthday parties and other functions.

In a memo to council members, Mr. Weller wrote that the fees “mirror” what the city charges to get into public skating in the city’s municipal arena at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. He also checked what other communities charge for their pools and found their fees range from $1 to $14.

The other proposed fees would be $2 for group rates for schools, camps and other groups; $30 for a seasonal pass for an individual; $90 for a family of four for the season; and $15 for additional family members for a season pass.

Mr. Weller said it would be challenging to implement the fees this summer, but appears possible.

The city would need to equip the Thompson Park bathhouse with mobile data, a laptop, printer, cash drawer and barcode scanner, he said. Putting the software together might create some hurdles.

The $3.1 million, year-old Thompson Park pool will be the only one of three city pools that will be open this summer. That pool became immediately popular when it made its debut last August.

The pools at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and the North Street Elementary School didn’t open last summer because of state COVID-19 restrictions.

This year, a major leak was discovered in the North Street Elementary School pool. Council members plan to decommission and demolish that pool. They also decided to not reopen the fairgrounds pool this summer because it needs some repairs and it was expected to take much of the summer to have the parts delivered so it could be fixed. They plan to reopen next summer.

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(2) comments


Sell season tickets, but send out free ones to city taxpayers.


Pools.. especially outdoor pools are a money pit in the north country that few of the population utilize... let the users pay for it...

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