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Paying for Grand Rapids City Pools – Woodtv

Paying for Grand Rapids city pools

3 city pools busy in recent heat wave

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - With high temperatures and humidity, Richmond Park pool in Grand Rapids was busy Wednesday. It shows how popular the city pools remain even as city officials and citizens look for a better way to fund them.

Richmond Park pool was already at capacity -- 500 swimmers -- within an hour and a half of opening Wednesday. Nearly 100 swimmers were bussed in from the Forest Hills Public Schools Summer Day Camp. It was so hot they couldn't let the kids outside without water, but they don't have a pool. Richmond pool was a welcome relief from the heat.

But only a few years ago, the city's three pools -- Richmond, Briggs and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- weren't seeing the same volume. In 2011, attendance at the pools had dropped from about 45,000 swimmers in seven weeks to about 15,000.

City officials thought the reason might be the high entrance fee. So last year, they lowered it to $1 per child and $2 per adult.

Attendance doubled to nearly 32,000 swimmers in the summer of 2012. The cost to taxpayers dropped from around $24 per swim to about $16 per swim.

Admission charges are the same this year. City officials expect another "strong season," according to Public Services Director James Hurt.

A few years ago, the city considered closing all three pools to save money, but now a citizen's group has proposed a tax hike to repair city parks and provide some steady support for the pools.

Grand Rapids residents will vote in November on that city parks tax proposal.

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