New Pools May Mean New Usage Fees

SPOKANE – The start of swimming season is still several months away but already the construction of six new Spokane city pools and how to maintain them is causing some frustration in local neighborhoods.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is considering increasing swimming fees and for the first time, charging kids to swim.

On Monday night the department announced it wants to increase the cost of swimming to help pay for maintenance, a move that not everyone supports, as was apparent at a community meeting Tuesday night where homeowners came out to voice concerns against a proposal to charge kids and adults more money to use the new pools.

“I think it’s grossly unfair that we tell our children that if you can not afford to swim you do not get to swim,” Brenda Corbett, the chair of the West Central Neighborhood Council said.

The parks department says that a voter-approved $42 Million bond that passed with a 68-percent approval rating in November or 2007 can’t cover all costs including more lifeguards and extended hours.

“It’s a common thing that people look at. We’re paying taxes to build. That’s exactly what you paid for, to build. There’s now the operation and maintenance costs,” Carl Strong with the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department said.

“There will be free swimming, a proposed schedule that I put together matches up quite closely similarly with the last several years of open swim,” Strong said.

Not everyone is opposed to the swimmer fee hike. Linda Cunningham has lived around the corner from Comstock Pool for 17 years now and says she’s looking forward to the newer neighborhood addition.

“Everyone is paying for the building of the pools but I think it’s a fair solution to have the users of the pools pay a user fee,” she said.

The park board will have the final say on whether or not the swim fee will be increased.