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

WATERTOWN — There won’t be a fee to go swimming in the city’s pool in Thompson Park this summer.

City Council members on Monday night informally agreed not to charge swimmers $3 per person for city residents and $4 for non-city residents.

The idea came up during this spring’s budget deliberations when council members asked city staff to come up with a recommendation to implement a fee structure that included group rates and season passes.

But Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith was joined by council members Ryan Henry-Wilkinson, Sarah V. Compo Pierce and Lisa A. Ruggiero to oppose the fees.

During the meeting, seven people also told council members that they should not impose the pool fees, saying city residents already pay for using the pool through city taxes and many of them live in poverty.

“When I heard it, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think anyone would want to charge $3,” said Seymour Street resident William Dermady.

Councilman Leonard G. Spaziani said he was the one who proposed the fees during budget talks, saying that a few bucks “isn’t going to hurt anyone.”

“Pools are a luxury,” he said.

While they disregarded a fee for city residents, council members also agreed to wait until next year to decide to charge non-residents. They want to gather data to see how many pool users live outside of the city and then figure out if a fee for them is warranted.

The $3.1 million, year-old Thompson Park pool will be the only one of three city pools that will be open this summer. The Thompson Park pool is slated to open June 29.

Scott M. Weller, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent, said Monday night that his department hired enough lifeguards for the pool this summer.

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

This year, a major leak was discovered in the North Elementary School pool. Council members may decide 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 it next summer.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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