Interest high, but revenues sinking for Denver pool

By on August 30, 2017

Review file photo
The Denver Pool.

Issues centering on the troubled finances at the Denver Community Pool flooded the discussion at the Aug. 28 meeting of the borough council.

Many of the 20 persons attending contributed to the conversation which yielded several feasible ideas for the pool.

Rec Board Member Lou Cassanova, as well as the swim team President Kerry Gable and Vice President Laura Musser, expressed interest in all the suggestions.

The swim team officers said they’d be open to consider asking swim team sponsors if they’d be “pool sponsors” rather than just swim team sponsors.

“We hang up a banner showing our swim team sponsors at meets,” Gable said. “Then we roll it up after each meet. We could ask sponsors to be pool sponsors and their banners could be hung on the fence for everyone to see.”

Swim team members don’t need to be Denver pool members. The officers said they know that could change. They’re aware that Ephrata swim team members must hold membership either in the outdoor pool or the Ephrata Rec Center.

Denver has some swimmers who are helped with swim team expenses through the team’s scholarship program. For these families, the pool membership requirement would be an added burden.

Attendance and revenue statistics aren’t promising.

Through Aug. 22, average daily attendance was 86, down from 114 per day in 2016. Daily attendance totaled 9,796 in 2016 and 6,947 in 2017.

“It seems like our numbers keep going down each year,” said Cassanova. “What do people want?”

Several residents, as well as Youth Council Member Sarah Register and Councilman Jason South, said that students will go to the pool where all their friends go. Often that’s the pool with the most activity options.

“This year the pool tried better marketing, movie nigh and a concert,” said Mike Hession, borough manager. “They were well attended. We’ve also had days where only seven people showed up. With daily expenses of $512, that just doesn’t cut it.”

Hession noted 55 percent of pool members live in the borough and 45 percent live outside the borough, mostly in West Cocalico Township.

“We’ve extended the lower Denver resident pricing to West Cocalico residents,” he said.

Better signage was urged to help people locate the pool as it is not on the same side of town as Denver Park. The Adamstown and Reamstown pools are both located within parks. Additional commercial traffic at the pool, such as food trucks, was suggested. Another idea was to eliminate the pool and consider what other options there are for that land.

Councilman John Palm made it clear that he is not advocating closing the pool. He did mention that Denver doesn’t have a dog park, and that area might be a feasible location.

One thing is certain, though: With 2017 revenues of $32,505.50, expenditures of $44,447.15 and a deficit of $11,941.65 as of Aug. 22, the borough cannot sustain a significant amount of loss annually.

“From what I read, most municipal pools do operate in the red,” said Earl Hertzog, a borough resident.

Denver council members have traditionally wanted to fund a community pool. However, in the next few years, there are additional state regulatory requirements coming which will be costly to implement.

Over the last few years, money was spent on adding infrastructure for ADA compliance. Pool replacement equipment and water leak repairs helped increase annual deficits from $30,074.84 in 2014 to $38,025.05 in 2016.

Hession said that the Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Commission guidelines for community pools by population suggest that one community pool would be sufficient for the population represented by all residents in the Cocalico School District.

Several council members said it would be useful for residents to let the borough know about suggestions they have for the pool.

Residents can contact the borough by e-mail at dobro@ptd.net, by phone at 717-336-2810, or by mail at 501 Main St., Denver, PA 17517.

In other business:

* East Cocalico Police Chief Terry Arment said interviews were held for a patrol officer and background checks are in progress. Kerry Sweigart retired in August. Even if a new officer is hired in October, that officer won’t be ready to solo until 2018.

* Denver Volunteer Fire Chief Shannon Hilton reported the following stats from Jan. 1 through Aug. 27: 131 calls, an average of 14.1 men per call; 1,255.5 man hours and an average response time of 3.42 minutes.

* Firemen will sell four-wheeler raffle tickets and park cars during the Denver Fair, Sept. 12 through 16. Hilton said the company hopes to order a new engine by the end of the year and is finalizing specs. The new truck will be financed with no additional contribution from the borough. That was the borough’s agreement when annual contributions to the company increased to $85,000 per year several years ago. The company banks three-fourths of that amount annually to help with capital expenses.

* Fire company officers and volunteers were present to discuss with council members the state legislation allowing either real estate or earned income tax relief for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

Hilton said firemen at a recent meeting discussed the legislation. The earned income tax made more sense to the volunteers, some of whom are renters.

“There’s a lot of paperwork,” said Hilton. “However, with our reporting system, I can already track much of what’s needed.”

Hession said regional leaders at their July meeting said they’d talk with their local fire/ambulance volunteers to assess interest in these credits and report back at their Oct. 24 regional meeting.

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