2009
07.25

The LaFayette city pool now charges $4 per person, including parents or adults not planning to swim. The recent 300% price increase from $1 to $4 per head has accomplished exactly what the city had hoped it would – decreasing the number of children (or certain children) swimming.

On a recent sunny Saturday I spent several hours at LaFayette’s only remaining public swimming facility and saw only a handful of children swimming where normally on such a day it would have been filled elbow to elbow with squealing playing kids. In fact, on this particular day, there were more fat old ladies and bald retired men in the pool at 3 PM than there were children, and most of the children were over the age of 15 and more interested in vamping and sunning than splashing around.

A $4 increase might be justified if the city was using that money to upgrade the facility or provide more amenities or staff, but at this point it doesn’t look like the pool is even being properly maintained. Other than replacing the water slide, putting in a baby pool, and adding a metal barn for selling overpriced refreshments through a hole in the fence, the pool remains essentially unchanged from how it looked twenty-some years ago when it first opened.

The funds could go to add more staff or pay the lifeguards more than minimum wage, which isn’t happening – and it’s also not going to pay an adult to supervise the half-dozen highschool kids now running the pool. The extra charge would also be sufficient to keep the pool open past August 6th, but the city has never kept the pool open after school starts back in the twenty-plus years it’s been open. (The highschool-age lifeguards can’t work afternoons during school but there’s not one single reason why it can’t stay open on weekends through at least the end of August if not all the way until mid-September.)

The pool employees I spoke to were as frustrated with the pricing situation as me, and indicated that they had approached the city council about it but had gotten nowhere with that esteemed body. As one female lifeguard put it, they’re too concerned with their $2-$3 million golf clubhouse to worry about what happens to kids at the pool.

The unjustified increase in cost for pool admission leads me to think that the city is intentionally trying to exclude certain elements of the population considered “undesirable” from enjoying city facilities. By raising the cost of swimming to $4 the council has specifically targeted children from poorer families in an attempt to keep them from dirtying the water and disrupting the older, voting, tax-paying citizens who prefer to have the pool (and everything else) to themselves.

Many families in LaFayette can’t afford to give their kids $1 a day to swim, much less $4 – and the summer-long pool pass is some $100 per family. This leaves many parents in a situation where they have to decide between buying necessities like food and clothing or paying a serious amount of money for their children to be able to swim. The ones who wisely choose eating are then left in a predicament of having children all summer without anything constructive to do.

Kids without summer activities are, of course, more likely to find things to do on their own; It’s no wonder LaFayette is covered with small groups of tweens and teens wandering around getting into trouble – because there’s nothing for them to do EXCEPT get into trouble.

While at the pool I observed a group of mixed-gender teens walk right past the overpriced pool in favor of the city’s walking trail where they spent upwards of half an hour “recreating” together unsupervised in the woods behind the rec department.

The city council would, of course, justify the current admission price the same way they justify everything – by blaming it on the economy and a budget shortfall. This is the justification they gave for canceling kids’ summer camps at the rec this summer and their stated reasons for laying off four city employees, among other cutbacks.

But at the same time, the city’s elders didn’t need any justification for the $20,000 they spent last fall on the completely tacky and unvisited singing christmas lights display at Joe Stock park. They also needed no justifcation for the literal millions of dollars spent building a new clubhouse for the golf course last spring. The figures I’ve heard quoted for that project now range anywhere from $2 to $4 million, with most saying the construction cost about $2.5 mil. (No word on whether or not that total includes the cost of replacing the new facility’s mismatched curtains or tearing down the 1993 clubhouse they abandoned last June.)

This fall when the city votes for its mayor and two councilmen, go show those elected officials how much you appreciate the decisions they’ve made which send our city in further decline. Assuming they don’t charge you $4 to vote, anyway.

Print Friendly

 

 

21 comments so far

Add Your Comment
  1. Well said. When we took our son to the toddler hour, there were very few children at the pool. I can not imagine how disappointing it is to a larger family trying to find nice summer activities for their children to have such a great resource available, but then put out of reach by the price. Very frustrating!

  2. It is a shame that the price of fun for swimming had to go up at the LaFayette Pool. Where else can you take your children for $4 for an all day pass? It costs more to buy a happy meal at McDonalds, but you are not there picketing and posting blogs. I think everyplace has been hit hard by the economy and it is expensive to swim, but you sound like someone who just wants to find something to complain about.

    Also, if you are going to quote information to the public then you should get it right.

    First, there is an adult supervisor over the pool. Just so you know, there are two. Before you scrutinize the staff, realize that these decisions are out of their control.

    Did you ever have a summer job? It has always been teenagers working as life guards and day camp counselors. How many adults do you know that want to work a job that only lasts the summer and have to chase children all day? I know that I have more responsibilities than a summer job can take care of.

    It sounds a lot like you are one of those people who sit back and find something to complain about instead of doing something about it besides posting to a website. Get a life and take it up with City hall instead of griping about the teens that work hard at the pool to provide a safe place for your children to swim.

  3. I have no complaint about the teen staff, they work hard and are obviously as frustrated with the $4 fee as I am. They expressed quite a bit of disgust at the situation when I asked them about it. I’m all in favor of teen employment, and think the teens should be paid more than minimum wage and given an opportunity to work weekends after school starts.

    They need to be supervised by an adult, and I know there is an adult supervisor, but none was present at the pool when I was there for hours typing this entry. Having worked with teens before, I know even the best teen employee can get off track without an experienced adult around to provide guidance. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them, but it’s easy for a high school age kid to get in over their head (no pun intended) when they aren’t given enough support.

    -// The LaFayette Underground //-

  4. And a Happy Meal at McDonalds _should_ cost more, because it’s provided through private enterprise. The only thing that buys the food is what I pay for it. The city pool is paid for by tax dollars, yours and mine – or at least it should be. The economy might be bad but the city is still raking in taxes, fines, and fees – and has enough cash laying around to sink into the new golf course clubhouse and pay the staff there overtime. It’s not a matter of the economy, it’s a matter of priority. The city’s leaders are making sure the tax-paying old men who are their friends have a nice fully-staffed golf course but in the process are throwing poor kids under the proverbial bus.

    -// The LaFayette Underground //-

  5. Thats funny because I am a lifeguard at the pool and the price does not concern me.The only reason kids get into trouble is because it is there choice.Even when its winter kids get into trouble….You don’t expect them to be swimming at the pool in the winter do you?wow your stupid.Seriously get a life and quit trying to put down the pool because you have nothing else to do.

  6. I think that LUis doing just what you said Ashley, he (or her) are doing soething about it. going to city meetings and being informed is being a responsible citizen, and from I can tell is one of a very few people of this town that cares whats going on around them. 4 bucks to swim? How do you justify that? If we are paying the help more then great or using to fix up, maintain or even use to maintain other recreational sites such as bball courts, or our great recreational area at the city lake! I don’t believe LU is putting down the teen work force only the supervisor needs to be there at all times, if there is 2 then there never should be a time that there isn’t one around what if something happened to a child and they needed that supervison seconds matter in emergency situations.

  7. Wow.If an emergency happens then thats what us lifeguards are for…..You people really have no sense whatsoever.Learn to spell too.

  8. Apparently, proper spelling isn’t a prerequisite for lifeguards, either.

  9. So lil weezy, take your own advise you didn’t spell all your little words either! We really have no sense, please explain as far as I can tell no one here has knocked you nor ANY of the teens working there now or in the past. All that has been said is there is a system set up and seams that it isn’t followed, oh andd the price of admission, and why has it went up.

  10. Tell me what words of mine are not spelled correctly.Cause to me they all look right.I take up for my boss cause people like you try to bash them.Anyhow technically you or anyone else does not have to swim at the pool.so why complain???there are lakes and creeks everywhere.

  11. First of all there are not lakes and creeks everywhere…well there might be, but not to swim in. And second of all, why do you feel the need to defend the pool so much. This is not a sororiety or a team or anything else that requires allegience. It is a city pool. City pools should not, and do not (anywhere else that I know of) charge $4 for a child to swim in their pool. Third, it is supposed to be a service to the community, paid for by the community, and should not cost them $4 to use it especially when, as the city likes to say so much, “we are in an economic downturn”. We understand that teenagers and young collegians do not have to pay very many bills, do not understand what the big deal about $4 might be, but it isn’t an excuse for blanant ignorance or unjustisfied allegience to a crappy city facility.

  12. Ok lil weezy first of all most people do not have the funds to drive all the way to some lake to swim. You like me maybe lucky enough to enjoy this luxury but a lot do not. Less than 2 miles down the road Blue bird will not be in production in less the one week, thats 350 families without jobs. Now you think they can afford to drive to some lake to swim or just cool off being gas is almost 3 bucks a gallon? And just so ya know I was a lifeguard sitting in the same seats you are i did it for 2 years and loved it. You can back your boss all you want you have that right, but I was young too and a supervisor is just that a supervisor friend or not. Debbie and Ken are my friends too but if they screw up you think I wouldn’t say the same to them or about them. I have known most of them all my life from a kid to an adult, from just playing ball there, hanging out to coaching every year now for 5 yrs. A job is a job and it’s my tax money that pays for it. Tell you what you pay 1800 a year in taxes because you own a house and see how you react to all this since you think we shouldn’t be worried or complain about this or anything else that goes on in the city.

  13. Funny thing is unlike you..I won’t have to worry about taxes because i’m joining the United States Airforce.I like the pool and all but I just felt like putting on a debate cause i’ve been bored.nice discussing things with you all.

  14. Yes, the rest of your life will be tax free…you won’t pay social security tax, you won’t pay medicare tax, you won’t pay sales tax, and you’ll never own your own home, or have someone die, or sell anything, or start a business, or a great many other things that are taxed. The Air Force will put you in a magic bubble that insulates you from having to pay taxes…that’s not how it works Lil’ one. You just displayed your age ignorance. I hope the Air Force teaches you a little bit about life and the real world. You should join the Coast Guard…there are lots of water surfaces for you to protect and defend until you look like a complete ignoramus.

  15. Unless things have changed dramatically, anyone serving in the armed forces are still required to pay tax to their home state of residence, as well as any and all other tax wih the only exception Federal income tax.

    This is of course, is assuming one makes it through Boot and the remainder of 180 days without ringing out, or being run off as an undesirable. The latter is not as likely to happen as the former. The services are so hard up for cannon-fodder these days they’ll take just about anyone.

  16. Gabby, I am not sure. I know that there are some states that exempt income tax for those in the service, but that is on the state level and so determined by the state. Federally I am pretty sure that they have to pay income taxes, at least part of them.

  17. KTB have you joined the service of any branch?Because if you knew anything about the military you would know that the coast guard is not hiring. ignorance…..

  18. And you, little Weezy, are also ignorant. You have no clue, as you are a still a child. You have no clue where I have been or what I’ve experienced. No, I didn’t research whether the Coast Guard was hiring as I was not seriously suggesting that you go into it. You need more discipline, and some growing up, so another branch of service would probably be better for you. I also do not believe that every former member of every branch of the service knows the recruitment policy of the current branches of the miltary either. Stick to your life guarding…

  19. ‘Gonna go out on a limb here. I don’t think she realised the ramafications of “ringing out” or being “drummed out” because she couldn’t meet the minimum daily requirement of cannon-fodder.

    Hell, sign ‘er up, give her a ticket to the BIG SHOW. If and when she gets back home, I bet we won’t have to listen to this shit.

    One shot. Twelve kills.

    US Naval Support & Fire Control………………………….

  20. Gabby what are you talking about?

  21. I have to say that I completely back up LU on this post. How do they justify the increase? I can’t afford $12.00 every time my kids want to go swimming. That’s a big chunk of change! I work full time and try my best to live inside a budget. Even so, it’s nice to have a few things to be able to do with my children on the weekends or on the occasional off day during the summer. Children love the water and I for one would much rather take them to a nice clear pool with life guards than a creek or pond (at the age they are now).

    And yes, I do feel compelled to do this:

    Lil’ Weezy, the following was spelled incorrectly:

    “The only reason kids get into trouble is because it is there choice”. It would be “their” not there. The difference being one is for possession and one is for location.

    “wow your stupid.” Here it would be “you’re” not “your”. “You are” verses the possessive “Your”

    Beyond that it would mostly be grammatical errors. I’ll not bust chops on that since this is just a comment board. However, you did call out someone on their spelling, so I feel this was justified.