Free swimming for kids: Cost of Grand Rapids pool admissions paid by Bob Sullivan

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A $50,000 donation from businessman Bob Sullivan will pay for an update to the play area at Fourth Street Woods and could make admission to city pools free for kids next summer.

Sullivan told Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 18, that he’d like some of the money to pay for a basketball court in the park at 1341 Fourth St. NW, across Valley Avenue from a baseball field that’s named after him. He’d like the rest of the money to cover the cost of youth admissions to city swimming pools.

Bob Sullivan.JPGBob Sullivan is giving Grand Rapids $50,000 to build a basketball court and cover the cost of youth admissions to city swimming pools. He talked about city pools Tuesday, Nov. 18, with city commissioners Dave Shaffer, Rosalynn Bliss and Walt Gutowski, with City Clerk Darlene O’Neal on the right.Matt Vande Bunte | mvandebu@mlive.com


“I feel bad that some kids don’t have $2 to swim,” Sullivan said. “This way every kid will be able to go swimming for the summer.”

 $29 per swim: Cost to operate Grand Rapids pools

It actually cost just $1 this summer for Grand Rapids residents age 1-17 to get into city swimming pools, and the pools had just under 19,000 of those admissions. Sullivan’s donation could be enough to make youth admission free in 2015, City Manager Greg Sundstrom said.

The amount of Sullivan’s donation available to subsidize pool admissions depends on the cost of the basketball court, said Steve Faber, executive director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

• Where Grand Rapids is expanding Fourth Street Woods

• Open house to review plans for tax-funded park improvements is Dec. 3

Sullivan in 2010 donated $100,000 to open the pool at Richmond Park, and thatspurred other private donors to foot the bill for operating two other city pools. Grand Rapids voters last year authorized a 0.98-mill property tax to ensure that city pools will open every summer at three parks: Briggs, Martin Luther King and Richmond.

Pool attendance was up this year because the new tax added almost five weeks to the season. The last time pool admission was free for children, in 2010, youth attendance was more than double what it was this past summer.

Back to Articles