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At its March 2 meeting, Mount Ayr city council members were presented with the feasibility study for potential recreational facilities in the city.
In its opening pages, the 70-page report from David Stone and Stone Planning summarizes three outcomes that guide the study’s research and recommendations:
1. Develop a facility whose construction, operations, and maintenance have minimal impact on Ringgold County’s tax base,
2. Plan a facility whose programming supports community needs:
• Promote individual health and wellness,
• Deliver play experiences through structured and free play,
• Strengthen the community’s image and livability, and
• Support economic development.
3. Plan a facility whose programming and fee structure are self-sustaining from a long-term operations and maintenance perspective.
The report itself is comprised of sections devoted to potential facilities, a market analysis, site analysis, case studies of similar facilities, funding analysis, operational analysis, and summary conclusions.
In the coming weeks the Record-News will examine each section of the report in detail.
This week the focus is on the existing pool and other potential facilities.
Mount Ayr’s current pool is located in Judge Lewis Park, on the western side of the city. It opened in 1963 and also has a bathhouse/locker room building that was added in 2013 that primarily serves as a FEMA shelter. There are actually two pools – a main, 4,500-square foot pool with two diving boards and an adjacent baby pool. The pools are not heated.
The pools are open in the summer – generally when school is out, from Memorial Day through mid-August (approximately 75 days). In addition to open swimming, the pool is used for adult swim, water aerobics classes, lap swimming, and lessons.
Due to its age, the pool has required annual renovations every year since a larger renovation in 2012, with the exception of 2019.
Current pool operations and usage
Current rates for pool usage (for the past summer) are as follows:
• Family: $135 (annual), $54 (monthly)
• Single: $70
• Punch card: $45 for 10 visits
• Daily: $3 – $5
This past summer, the pool had 48 family memberships, 23 single memberships, and four punch cards. Average daily attendance from 2010 through 2015 was 66 people (capacity is 300).
The city employs one part-time recreation director/pool manager and 16 part-time lifeguards for the pool. Pool expenses for the 2019 fiscal year (which included the 2018 summer pool season) were approximately $65,200 and revenues were $24,000, with a resulting deficit of approximately $41,200. The table on the front page shows detailed revenues and expenses for the previous three years.
In the three years, as revenues decreased from approximately $27,000 to $18,000 and expenses increased from $55,000 to $72,000, revenues decreased from nearly 50 percent of expenses to 25 percent.
The major drivers of expense growth have been salaries (in 2017) and repairs (2018).
Future facility options
The Stone study offers four options for recreational facilities in the city.
One option would renovate the existing pool by making various improvements, which can include upgrades to the deck, the pool itself, the surrounding area, and its infrastructure. Specific improvements are to be determined but one scenario that has been presented includes adding a splash pad, landscaping, climbing walls, spray features, lighting, accessibility improvements, and others.
Another option would replace the current pool with new outdoor pool. This scenario has not been fully defined but could be located at multiple potential sites.
Third and fourth options would replace the existing pool with a new pool that has indoor/outdoor capabilities as well as a limited fitness facility or one with a more comprehensive fitness/wellness center that has more offerings than the “limited” facility option. Again, these options could be located at multiple sites.
[Next week’s article will examine potential sites for a recreational facility.]