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Will a proposal to charge at Watertown public pools float?

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It’s an idea that’s sure to make waves. On Watertown City Council’s agenda Monday night, a recommendation that would charge people to use city pools.

Scott Weller, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation has come up with proposal for pool fees.

He wrote to city leaders that people have to pay to ice skate, so they can to swim, too.

The daily rate would be three dollars for residents, and four dollars for non-residents. It would cost a family of four who live in the city 90 dollars for a season pass. A family that doesn’t live in the city would pay 120 dollars.

Weller says those numbers are based on fees charged at other community pools.

The idea didn’t go over well with some people enjoying the splash pad at Thompson Park, a water attraction that would remain free to us.

“We actually come from a very big blended family,” said city resident Cassandra Sweeney. “Between the three families we have about nine kids. Within a couple weeks, the amount we would use to pay for the pool, I could buy a pool.”

The proposal is drawing criticism from some city council members. Sarah Compo says city taxpayers, who help fund public pools, shouldn’t be double charged. She does agree people who don’t live in the city should be charged creating a new source of revenue.

Lisa Ruggiero says she is against charging city residents, but says it is worth it to discuss whether non-resident groups, like schools or camps, should pay a fee or not.

And Councilmember Ryan Henry-Wilkinson has concerns, too.

“I’m worried if we go down this road, we may be turning away, or turning them off to even using the pool,” Henry-Wilkinson said.

Weller says making the switch this year may be challenging, but appears possible. He says the bathhouse will need to be set up with internet connection and a cash drawer.

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