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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thayer pool may close

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In a special noontime meeting Aug. 24, Thayer aldermen asked the Thayer Community Betterment Association to consider taking over the city pool to keep it from closing forever.

"It's not a matter of 'we want to' close it," Alderman Steve Alford said. "We 'have to' close it."

The pool is projected to lose about $12,000 this season, once a few remaining invoices are filed, according to city officials. The city spent $24,614 on pool supplies and salaries, and brought in $13,568 in gate fees and concession sales during the summer.

"That's bad, but it's been worse," City Clerk Donna Martin said Monday, Aug. 29.

Some years, the pool has lost about $25,000 from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This year, despite outside temperatures near 100 degrees for three weeks, the pool closed in mid August because of declining pool attendance.

Alford said that with the "general fund in trouble," the city can no longer bear the brunt of pool expenses.

City leaders speculated that pool attendance has declined in recent years because children now have many other activities available to them.

"When I was a kid, it was either baseball, go to the pool or haul hay," Alderman Terry Tillman said. "The pool has never been a money-making venture, but it's gotten to where people aren't even using it."

The city proposed leasing the pool to the 10-year-old Thayer Community Betterment Association for $1 per year.

The association's president, Regina Caldwell, attended the meeting.

"So, you're saying that if we don't lease it, the pool won't open next year?" Caldwell asked.

"It's possible," Alderman Mike Harber said.

Alford said, that as a nonprofit agency, the betterment association could have fundraisers and apply for grants the city would not be eligible for otherwise.

Caldwell said she will discuss the city's offer at the association's next meeting, set for Sept. 12.

The first week of August, the association hosted a back-to-school party for the pool, raising about $850 in pool admission fees and barbecue dinner sales.

Of that, the city was given $303, which was half of the gate fees taken in during the evening event. The association set aside the remaining $553 for pool improvements.

Before school let out for the summer, the association polled Thayer High School students, and learned many said they would visit the pool more often if it had shade, more chairs and an updated bathhouse.

Caldwell said the teens also asked for a slide and other large items that are unaffordable.

The association has made the pool its top priority project for the coming year, Caldwell said.

At a previous meeting, the board discussed grant possibilities for pool upgrades. No action was taken.

Also at the Aug. 22 meeting, the board unanimously approved using funds from the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for law enforcement for police department payroll for the next three months.

The tax generates about $200,000 annually and was approved in April 2009.

Payroll equals about $30,000 monthly.

Mayor Earl "Buddy" Rogers said the board will discuss the situation again after the three-month period.

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