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No-splash zone: Farmington city pool will not re-open next summer

2017 was the final year for the Farmington city pool complex. Kara Hildreth / contributor1 / 2
The Farmington city pool will not re-open in 2018. Kara Hildreth / contributor2 / 2

Farmington's outdoor city pool is closed for the season and will not reopen next summer.

The city pool opened in 1971 and completed its 47th season, well beyond the normal life expectancy for an outdoor pool that is 30 to 35 years.

"Attendance numbers at the pool continue to decline, resulting in decreased revenue from user fees to cover the pool's operation and maintenance costs and an increase in the amount needed to subsidize the cost of pool operations and maintenance," said Randy Distad, director of city parks and recreation.

Farmington Mayor Todd Larson said: "It is costing way too much to keep it open and each year there are three or four problems, so it is costing a fortune and it has outlived its life."

In 2013, the city conducted a facility maintenance study and an aquatic feasibility study that concluded the outdoor pool needed $1.2 million in improvements to address deficiencies. Those issues included mechanical equipment, a new filtration system, electrical service and updates to the pool deck, pool shell and bathhouse.

Five years ago, city staff alerted the council about the pool needing significant improvements within five years to continue to operate, Distad said.

In November 2016, a city recreational referendum narrowly was defeated by city taxpayers. If passed, a city pool would have been part of a $12.3 million waterpark complex and new recreational ball fields and other improvements.

Declining attendance

City pool revenues in 2015 were $71,120, and in 2016 pool revenues were $67,419.

Paid admission numbers showed a decline from 2014 to 2017. Total pool attendance numbers for the summer 2014 season was 10,118, and in 2017 attendance dropped to 7,026.

In 2014, the pool was open 72 days with an average daily attendance of 141. In 2015, the pool was open 69 days with an average daily attendance of 134. In 2016 the pool was open for 63 days with an average daily attendance of 136.

This summer, the pool was open 61 days and the reported average daily attendance was 115.

Group swim lessons showed to be 234 in 2014, and 127 signed up to take lessons in 2017. Private swim lessons were also on the decline; there were 33 private lessons in 2014, and only nine private lessons in 2017.

In the past four years, water aerobics classes showed greater participation with 52 signed in 2014 and that number rose to 92 swimmers signed up for water aerobics classes this past summer.

Punch card swimming admissions declined in the past four years, however. Those numbers went from 3,680 in 2014, down to 1,890 cards in 2017.

Pool closing

The second draft of the tentative 2018 Farmington city budget calls for the city pool to close, according to Robin Hanson, city finance director.

"The draft budget assumes the pool is closed in 2018, and the potential savings kept in the 2018 budget would go toward demolition, fill and reclamation of the pool and bathhouse areas," Hanson said at the Aug. 21 meeting.

The city pool is located inside Evergreen Knoll Park, so tentative plans are to demolish the pool and fill it in to offer more green space at the park, Larson said.

The mayor said he understands the community will be disappointed since the pool is still used by some families and the neighborhood.

Larson said this financial decision had to be made since the pool has outlived its life and does not make financial sense.

As a native to Farmington, Larson recalled swimming in the pool as a boy, and said his family enjoyed the city pool when his children were growing up.

"People need to also understand the pool probably lived 10 years past its lifespan and we have been running on Band-Aids for a long time," he said.

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