Halter seeks a daily rate for pool

By Lynn R. Parks

Seaford resident Connie Halter has asked the city council for details about how much money it spends to support the Seaford Community Swim Center. If the city is paying most of the bills there, Halter told city council members Tuesday night, then the pool should be more accessible to the public.

"What part of the money spent there is public funding?" she asked. "Does the city pay for the pool opening? Does it pay the electric bill? Does it pay for insurance? Does it buy the pool chemicals? If the pool is continuing to operate with city funds, then it should be more open to city residents."

The swim center is located on the former Seaford Golf and Country Club property. The city bought it in 2010 as part of its purchase of the country club, which closed the year before that.

While the pool is still owned by the city, it is operated by a separate organization with its own board of directors. City councilman David Genshaw is the board president.

Only people who pay for a seasonal membership are allowed to use the pool. Memberships cost $85 per person, $75 for senior citizens. Children have to have at least one parent or guardian join.

Halter told the city council that she would like to see the pool have certain hours during the day when it is open to non-members at a daily rate.

"If the city is using public tax dollars for the pool, then the pool should be accessible to city residents who can't afford a membership or who choose not to belong," she told council members. "I want it to be open to all of the community, not to just a select group."

But Mayor Bill Bennett said that while the city owns the pool, it doesn't want to be in the pool operations business. "We form partnerships with a lot of organizations to make things available to the public," he said.

"We don't go in there and tell them how they have to operate. And I don't see us going into this organization and telling them how to operate."

Bennett also cautioned that if the swim center organization chose to disband, that would likely been the end of the pool.

"If they got out of the business of operating the pool, the city would not keep it open," he said. "We are not likely to get back into running another pool." The city closed its community pool on Virginia Avenue in 2009, citing increasing costs and declining attendance.

Bennett suggested that Halter continue to press her point with the swim center board. "They seem open to discussion," he said.

To Halter's request for details about funding of the pool, Bennett told her that he would get that information for her.

Halter started her presentation before the city council by reading a letter that she sent to the city last spring. She never received a response to that letter, she said. "Because I'm afraid that you never read my letter, I'm going to read it to you," she told the city council.

Last summer, after she received no response to her letter, Halter said that she contacted newly elected councilman Genshaw, who is council liaison with the city's parks and recreation department. In a written response to her request that the pool establish a daily rate, Genshaw said that the swim center board and the city "are working to see what we can figure out."

This spring, Halter said, she contacted the swim center board and asked it to consider having a daily rate. She said that she received a response advising her that there will be no daily rates this season.

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