Originally, the intent was that the pools would be open into the evening hours several days per week during the summer season. During the past two summers, we provided several evening swim times based on patron input. Unfortunately, the center lost a considerable amount of money on weekday evening swim due to underutilization. Frequently, the guards on duty outnumbered the patrons in the pool. Further, the regular lap swimmers and water aerobics attendees who were displaced by this scheduling reacted with displeasure.
The expense involved in keeping all three pools open and staffed amounts to about $100 per hour, as state law has specific requirements regarding guard-to-open-water ratio. This means that we must admit 25 local adults, 50 local kids, or some combination of admissions equaling $100 per hour just to break even. What expense we aren’t able to cover from admissions and memberships is ultimately subsidized by taxpayers. If our programming isn’t producing revenue or at least breaking even, it has to be the type of programming the city considers a community service for which it is prepared to sacrifice revenues.
Our decision not to run evening open swim more than two days per week is a matter of economics. We make every effort to serve the broadest range of users possible; however, we have a duty to adhere to the budget adopted by the Moab City Council. Our expenditures must be justified to a certain extent by our revenues. We cannot operate based upon an “If you build it, they will come” assumption. We must design our scheduling and programming based on actual usage data and budgetary constraints.
Given the number of recent comments we have received, the MRAC will reexamine possible options for weekday evening swim. We are always open to constructive ideas as to how we may best serve our community in an economically feasible manner. Meanwhile, we suggest that, to avoid disappointments, patrons familiarize themselves with the pool schedule, which is available at the front desk as well as posted in the lobby and on our website: www.moabcity.org.mrac.
—Terry Lewis, director
Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center