Those looking for an excuse for not planning for construction of a public swimming pool in New Albany could have found several at a public meeting this week.
A speaker at the meeting said public swimming pools, especially year-round facilities, are expensive to build and expensive to operate. And to be successful, programming needs to be developed in four areas: competitive swimming, adult fitness, learn-to-swim, and rehabilitation therapy, he said.
Brian Manning, of Ingomar, a supporter of developing a community pool, also said that communities that have a successful pool operation usually have a strong community-support group. Currently, we have no support group and no programming to generate revenue.
All of those things could be taken as reasons not to proceed. We think not to do so, however, would be shortsighted and a disservice to our community, especially to our children, who have no public facility in which to learn to swim.
The fact is we are not going to have any programming or a strong support group without a plan for a pool.
We don’t know whether a pool, especially a year-round one, could be self-supporting. And we don’t think that should be a major factor in the discussion. Government services are not profit centers. If breaking even were a requirement, we wouldn’t have a fire department or paved streets or a Sportsplex. We could go on.
At the very least, New Albany needs to have a feasibility study. We would like to see the city, with the support of our school districts, take the lead in recognizing the need and getting such a study done.