Rochester city officials continue to discuss the fate of the Silver Lake Park pool after it was reopened for what was intended to be a final season this summer.
Operating the pool is not included in the proposed 2022 city budget.
RELATED: Silver Lake pool fate remains murky
Tuesday, the Rochester Park Board reviewed the summer operations at the city’s two outdoor pools, which included free admission following the pools being closed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are a few things to know about the pools:
1. Admissions more than tripled this year
Open swim times drew 53,028 people to the city’s two outdoor pools, up from 17,334 in 2019 and 16,392 in 2018.
The Silver Lake pool had 9,424 admissions, and the Soldiers Field pool recorded 43,604.
When other activities at the pools are added, the total number of users for the summer was 76,150.
2. Financial losses increased
Ben Boldt, recreation supervisor for Rochester's Parks and Recreation Department, said pool operations required a $182,612 subsidy to cover operating losses this year, which is in addition to the $70,000 committed by the city council and park board to repair and operate the facilities as the season was starting.
It’s up from a $105,926 loss in 2019 and $101,029 in 2018.
The 2021 loss included $134,527 in staffing costs, which was up from $98,814 in 2019, because of increased needs with additional swimmers. Staffing costs were $79,481 in 2018.
Maintenance and repair costs were $118,087 this year, up from $81,435 in 2019 and $88,796 in 2018.
3. Silver Lake pool made free swimming lessons possible
Autumn Kappas, CEO of Rochester Swim Club Orcas, said the Rochester Swim Club and local volunteers were able to provide 763 free swimming lessons during the summer, with 270 of the lessons provided to Boys and Girls Club participants and 175 to Jeremiah Program families.
“There is no way we could have run those at Soldiers Field,” she said, noting the larger city pool was booked with other programs. “We had to have a second pool to make it happen.”
4. Rescues point to the need for swimming lessons
Lifeguards made well over 110 saves this summer, Kappas said. Typically since 2016, there are 30 to 40 rescues. She cited more near drownings to increased pool usage by youth with little experience in the water.
5. Admission costs likely to return in 2022, but free swimming remains an option
Kappas said the Rochester Swim Club has offered free pool admission to community organizations catering to low-income families and youth opportunities, and she said that will likely continue when the city restores admission fees.
6. A reason to invest in them
Of the 732 residents that responded to one of the 5,500 randomly mailed surveys earlier this year, 26% said they use the city’s outdoor pools, but 70% said they believe the city should invest in outdoor pools.
The percentage of respondents saying they use the pools rose to 38% among people who responded to a call for open participation in the survey. Of the 1,444 participants in that survey, 71% said the city should invest in the pools.
7. Uncertainty remains
Boldt said needed repairs to the pool shell at Soldiers Field and plumbing concerns at Silver Lake would add costs to reopen both pools next year, but he noted funding is unclear at this point amid budget discussions.
Park Board member Dick Dale echoed the desire to maintain two outdoor pool.
“I just see a hard, hard time in not opening that up and allowing people to use the pool,” he said of the Silver Lake facility.