Feature Article - January 2010
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Is an Enclosure the Right Option to Add Seasons to Your Facility?

By Jessica Royer Ocken



To Enclose or Not to Enclose:
One Town's Odyssey

The Village of Ossining, N.Y., had an outdoor pool for 37 years. "It looked like it was 50 years old," said Henry Atterbury, recreation director for the village. The steel tank had rusted through in a few spots, everyone held their breath each year to see if the pool would open for another season. "It had to be replaced as the Westchester County Health Department was about to close it down," he said.

As the village examined replacement costs, they determined that a new outdoor pool and bathhouse would cost about $3.5 million. The outdoor facility would be used during weekends in June and then full time during July and August, minus any days with rain or lightning, which meant somewhere around 560 hours per season. However, although an indoor pool facility would cost $7 million, the village estimated 4,600 hours of use per year, "with the added value that we would get those hours regardless of rain or snow," noted Atterbury.

Their decision? Enclose! And covering the existing pool was not an option, so they constructed a new indoor pool facility. "There are, of course, higher incremental costs with the indoor facility due to the additional year-round hours of operation," noted Atterbury. "But the benefit to the community from those hours of availability are a big hit with the public. The revenue we generate with year-round programs covers about half the operating cost at this point, and we are still building programs."

Ossining charges its residents a mere $2 per season to enjoy open swim hours at the pool—and more than 9,000 did so last season. "We only [really] charge for programs where we provide instruction," explained Atterbury. "Our goal as a municipal program is to maximize use of the pool."

It's also a village goal that every local child have a chance to learn to swim, so lessons at the indoor pool are in line with that mission. In addition, the Ossining High School swim team has been able to expand and flourish now that they have a place to practice and hold meets at no charge to the school district. Before they scrambled to rent expensive pool space from surrounding communities. "Now Ossining High School has both a boys and girls swim team, and they are at or near maximum capacity on both teams," Atterbury said. "We have a great working relationship with the schools," he added. "So far the pool is a big hit, and I don't see that changing."