Rocky Fork Enterprise

Council diving through data, seeking options for pools

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Gahanna parks and recreation director Tony Collins provided four options for the future of the city's pools, during the Aug. 25 council committee meeting.

He called them scenarios A, B, C and D, saying the choices have been discussed in public and with different partners, such as the YMCA and Steve Nye, owner of Aquatic Consultants Enterprises Inc., the parent company of the Greater Columbus Swim Team of Ohio.

"Obviously, we have a preference," Collins said. "We want to see the pools stay open. 'A' is using the current model, doing what we're doing today."

That would include outsourcing the operations for the Gahanna Swim Club and Hunters Ridge Pool.

Scenario A also would include replacing the Gahanna Swimming Pool's front pool floor and deck at the end of 2015.

The city would rely on contractors to operate concessions and programs, as well as to manage water quality and lifeguards.

During the 2014 pool season, Gahanna had a $191,000 contract with Columbus Pool Management. In-house operations were projected to cost $194,500.

Collins said Scenario B would involve closing operations and "mothballing" the sites, meaning to mow and treat turf but keep the areas locked up. He said that option would leave the door open, allowing the city to reopen the pools sometime in the future.

He said Scenario C would close the pools and turn the sites into open park space.

Collins said Scenario D would be to lease sites to an external entity to minimize the city's expense, repairing basic needs now but with no future investment in pool repairs.

"We haven't heard from anyone interested in this option," he said.

Collins said other options or a hybrid of those four options might be possible, but those are the four basic ideas that have been discussed the most.

He said the goal of Monday's presentation was to continue the conversation that was started in 2012.

He said the issue actually goes back as far as 2006, when the Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan called for the community to find a solution to the aquatics challenges in Gahanna.

Collins provided a binder to council members with detailed data, including historical information about the pools, operations of the city and of the parks-recreation department, projection data, regional aquatics comparable information, capital improvement data and frequently asked questions.

The complete report has been posted on the city's website at gahanna.gov.

Collins said the information was compiled by recreation superintendent Shannon Sorrel and the parks-rec staff.

"It was a monumental project to collect all of this information, summarize it and create the documents that don't exist but tell the story of what we do and how well we do it," he said.

Collins said the focus of the information is sustainable operations of the city and its parks and recreation programs.

In the projection data of the report, it shows the detail of projections over the next five years of the recreation division as a part of the city's financial picture.

Reviewing the financial history, Collins said, the smallest revenue recovery areas over the years have been special events, the senior center and aquatics.

"This projection shows the reduction and elimination of special events, the evolution of the senior center to a revenue center and the elimination of aquatics," he said.

Council president Brian Larick asked council members to submit any questions to Collins by Wednesday, Sept. 3. More council discussion is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8.

Collins said the information he provided gives a starting point for conversations. He said he anticipates a public meeting to be scheduled for late September to discuss the issue.

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