Landscape Structures - Smart Play - Big Fun For The Little Ones
Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

January 2017


Preventing Pool Closings

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

Study Shows High Obesity Rates Among Student Athletes - September 2016

Forest Service Celebrates 100-Year-Old Campground - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - August 2016

Council Announces Release of Second Edition of Model Aquatic Health Code - August 2016

Study Finds Seniors, Women Less Likely to Use Parks - August 2016

Level Up Your Park With Pokémon Go - August 2016

Research Shows Light Pollution's Impact on Night Sky - July 2016

Trail-Oriented Development Eases Congestion, Encourages Activity - July 2016

Nonprofits Aim to Boost Inclusive Fitness Opportunities - July 2016

Research Shows Benefits of Nature for Older Adults - June 2016

Destination Play Comes to Draper, Utah - June 2016

New Report Breaks Down the Data on City Parks - June 2016

Virtual Reality, Immersion & Interaction Lead Amusement Park Trends in 2016 - June 2016

National Leaders Team Up to Promote Physical Activity Plan - May 2016

Growing Economic Confidence Means More Visitors for Attractions Industry - May 2016

SHAPE America Recognizes Just Dance School of the Year - May 2016

Surgeon General Visits Gregory Gym in Austin - May 2016

Are States Dropping the Ball on Keeping Kids Active? - April 2016

U.S. Masters Swimming Campaigns to Reduce Adult Drowning - April 2016

Grants for Urban Outdoor Recreation Available - April 2016

Physical Education Program Grant Competition Opens - April 2016

Nature Play Comes to Wildwood - March 2016

Miracle Swimming Opens First Pool Dedicated to Those With Water Fears - March 2016

Managing Concussion Risk: Communities Switch From Contact to Flag Football - March 2016

Gallup Study Looks at Long-Term Well-Being of Former Student Athletes - March 2016

Purdue University Simplifies & Boosts Security - February 2016

Fitness Fosters Better Mental Health - February 2016

Restricting Diving May Have Little to Do With Preventing Injury, Study Says - February 2016

National Parks Work to Protect Bats and Their Habitats - February 2016

USTA Helps Communities Boost Tennis Participation - February 2016

Organizations Aim to Clarify Dangers of Hypoxic Blackout - January 2016

NRPA Receives Grant to Celebrate Those Advancing Health Equity - January 2016

Expanding Education on Concussion in Sports - January 2016

Omnibus Budget Boosts Funding for National Parks, Extends LWCF - January 2016

By Deborah L. Vence

Pool closings have been an issue for parks and recreation facilities over the years, with some of the reasons for the closures being that communities have had to make budget cutbacks or have delayed necessary upgrades to their pools.

"We started tracking pool closings around 2008. We found that it was becoming more than just an occasional thing," said Mick Nelson, facilities development director, USA Swimming, Colorado Springs, Colo., in a recent interview. He added that 1,800 pools have closed in the past six years.

There are a variety of reasons why pools close, including the fact that "Some [pools] may have lived their lifespan," Nelson said.

Pool operators and owners need to be aware that "you have to really put some money back into them and fix things when they start to go," Nelson said. "If you don't fix the $30 problem, next year it will be a $300 problem, and [could turn into] thousands and thousands of dollars," he said, adding that renovations and upgrades are not always planned for. "It's gonna happen if you ignore it."

Overall, park districts will have to look at things in a different way.

"Basically, the income is not enough. You can't just charge $5 and be able to cover pool maintenance. It doesn't come close to reaching [what you need]," Nelson said. "It's about income, the total budget, the whole business plan."

Nelson added that some pools also struggle because they might only be open successfully in June and July. "That's hard with only the two months that you can get a return on investment," he said.

A 2014 blog by Nelson stated that within a two-year period, between 2011 and 2013, USA Swimming found that nearly 1,100 commercial or intuitional pools were closed.

The main reasons for the pool closings were:

  • Older pools ignoring or delaying upgrades and repairs to the point that the pool cost more to fix than any budget could handle.
  • Pools relying on simple "day pass" income and water rental rather than offering total aquatic programming options.
  • Budget cutbacks by cities and schools, where rather than revamping the aquatic program offerings for the community, the "people in charge" of the budget simply close the pool.

Solutions offered by USA Swimming's Facilities Development Department include:

  • Educate the people responsible for the "fate of the pool" about programming offerings and pricing and maintenance escrows in budget.
  • Offer advice and assistance in the best practices for pool operations and renovations.
  • Supply an Aquatic Programming Manual (at no charge) to help increase the pools community value and revenue.
  • Try to make sure all new facility designs have at least two pools, the main pool and a warmer-water, smaller pool for teaching aquatic programming. Programming precedes design.

Weeders Disgest - Got Muck and Lakeweeds? - Free Advice From Our Lake and Pond Experts
Commercial Recreation Specialists - It's all here.
Kay Park Recreation - American Made Park Equipment Since 1954
Vantage - Tablet Feeders for Any Size Pool
Zeager - Bonded WoodCarpet(R) Systems  - Safe & Beautiful - Accessible & Natural
Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association - Dor Unbiased Expertise in Sports Flooring
ICON Shelter Systems - An Illuminated Choice
National Construction Rental - Rent-A-Fence - Restrooms - Storage - Power - Learn More