Rainy start to summer slows city's swim season
Upper Arlington's aquatics manager is hoping for a prolonged heat wave after a wet start to summer bogged down pool attendance.
Although data for July won't be tabulated until after the end of the month, Upper Arlington Aquatics and Tennis Manager Lee Spitzer last week estimated attendance at the city's three public pools is down about 30 percent from typical years.
The smaller crowds are in direct relation to the higher-than-normal rainfall in June and July.
According to the National Weather Service's Wilmington, Ohio, office, the Columbus area has experienced three consecutive months of above-average rain.
As of July 19, the region had received 4.05 inches of rainfall, which the NWS reported was 1.88 inches more than the "normal" amount for the month.
That followed May and June, which the NWS said brought 5.22 inches and 6.02 inches of rain, respectively, both higher than average.
"This has kind of been the opposite of last year," Spitzer said. "This year has been damp and a little bit cooler, and people are staying away. I'd say we're off probably at least one-third from where we were last year."
In 2012, the NWS reported the Columbus area saw 1.4 inches less rain than normal in May, 2.09 inches less than normal in June and 1.93 inches less than normal in July.
Through June this year -- the most recent statistics available from the city -- total attendance at Devon, Reed and Tremont pools was 37,556, compared to 47,420 -- an approximately 21-percent dip.
"Last year, it seemed like the heat wave was never going to end," Spitzer said.
The Reed Road Water Park and Tremont Pool are slated to close for the season Sept. 2, and Devon Pool will close Sept. 14.
Spitzer said his division has yet to crunch the numbers, but low turnout coupled with the city's obligation to staff the pools even for the few people who have braved the raindrops to swim undoubtedly will have a negative effect on the bottom line.
He added that while a prolonged hot, dry spell would help offset any losses, he doesn't expect the pools' gates to recover this year.
"You kind of have to grin and bear it," he said. "As long as even small numbers of people are coming to the pool, you still have to staff it.
"We're still the best deal in town," Spitzer added. "Hopefully, this (recent) hot weather will bring people back."