Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

July 2017

Kids Swim Free in Tucson This Summer

By Chandler Garland

On May 25, Council Member Paul Cunningham announced that kids 17 and younger will swim for free at 17 of the city's 18 pools this summer. The free admission will be in place until the polls close in early August. This desert community decided to test-drive this route of public service this summer to serve the health and standard of living of their population.

"It was the right thing to do," said Joan Staunch, director of Tucson Parks and Recreation, "We live in a desert and want to ensure all kids have access to a place to keep cool and have fun. Despite budget challenges, leadership shown by the mayor and Council Member Cunningham has been to improve the lives and health of the community by finding ways to serve all populations."

A secondary goal of this special service is to create excitement and renewed interest in city pools and the park system. "We hope to increase activity of aquatic programs and demonstrate the value of the service provided by Tucson Parks and Recreation, which they hope will lead to increased revenues in other parts of the park system," Staunch said.

While most pools cannot afford to take this kind of financial hit, Staunch affirmed that the minimal amounts collected from pool admissions hardly offset the cost of running a pool anyway. So, Tucson Parks and Recreation decided to open the pools this summer and pay the cost to run the pools.

As part of this service, Tucson Parks and Recreation has contracted with ice cream vendors to give free ice cream to Go-Pass holders. These passes are for unlimited rides and free admission to city pools. However, since the pools are now free, the city of Tucson has decided to change free admission to free ice cream. This summer, each Go-Pass holder will receive $15 worth of vouchers for ice cream, which can be purchased at city pools and other city parks. Go-Pass can be purchased for $45 from Tucson Parks and Recreation.

The City of Tucson is unsure if this great service will continue for subsequent years. They are running this year like a trial to see how free admission effects overall interest in the park system.

"As far as next year, we are going to see how it goes and what attendance looks like," said Staunch. So, if this summer goes well, it is likely that free pool admission will continue in the City of Tucson.

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