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City will keep control of outdoor pool

For this summer, at least, the city of Farmington will continue to run the outdoor pool and let the YMCA hold its programs elsewhere in the city.

With a 3-2 vote Monday, the Farmington City Council denied a proposal to turn the operation of the city's outdoor pool over to the YMCA.

City administrator Peter Herlofsky had been working to build a relationship that would take the burden of running the outdoor pool off the shoulders of city staff, even if there is no guarantee it will save the city any money.

"This is to give the YMCA some presence in the community," Herlofsky said.

Last year, pool operations were handled by parks and recreation supervisor Patti Norman. However, her position was cut as part of the 2009 budget process, which means the remaining staff would be charged with running the pool. At the same time, the YMCA was looking to become more involved in the Farmington community. Herlofsky thought the proposal made good sense.

But some council members had questions about who would benefit financially, if anyone. The initial proposal from the YMCA included a request for the city to continue maintenance on the pool, then reimburse the Y for the expected $75,000 in losses that accompany running the pool. The latter part was stricken from the proposal, but there was still a request for a possible reimbursement of $5,000 to $10,000 to make up for costs associated with running the pool.

And that, it seems, did not sit well with a couple of the council members.

There were other issues, too -- council member Steve Wilson worried recent changes in the YMCA executive staff could lead to different ideas on how the contract between the city and Y would be executed. Mayor Todd Larson questioned why YMCA members would get free admission and Farmington area residents who are not Y members would have to pay. Since there is not a YMCA nearby, Larson said the idea was somewhat unfair to those who have patronized the pool for years.

Council member Christy Jo Fogarty recognized there were some concerns among her fellow members, but said the partnership would not be any bigger risk than the city running the pool.

"To be honest, the pool does this to us every year," she said.

Fogarty and Terry Donnelly cast the two votes in favor of entering a contract with the YMCA. Larson, May and Wilson voted against.

The Farmington pool is expected to open June 6.