By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – A group of residents are fighting to keep small pools in the community open.
As part of the budget proposed by Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., cuts could force the closure of up four of the city’s eight pools over the next two years. No specific pools are named in the budget proposal.
The highest cost estimate for repairing one of the pools would be about $200,000, according to a study in October 2010 by NSA Architects, Engineers and Planners of Farmington Hills.
Resident Ryan Woods said many estimates come from repairs that may come up in the next five years.
“I want to keep these pools open,” resident Mark Layne said. “The pools have been a way of life for 40 years.”
Layne and Woods are members of a Facebook group working to keep the pools open. Called Save Our Pools, it has about 3,700 members and has promoted the message that the pools are an important part of the community and need to be preserved.
“These pools have been a place for our children to work, swim, exercise and build lifelong relationships,” the group’s page says.
“We want to work with the city,” Woods said. “We all love the community.”
In a presentation to the City Council in April 2010, the group outlined ways to keep down the cost of running the pools, including advertising and reducing energy usage.
Woods said changes needing to be made are mainly cosmetic, including fresh coats of paint and and installing energy-efficient lights, both of which still need to be done at Whitmore-Bolles pool. He said it is being used as the example of what the other city pools look like.
Another pool that could close is Summer Stephens, where work included having the interior stalls painted and new mirrors added to the bathhouse.
Various fundraisers were held last year, including a T-shirt sale sponsored by about 20 businesses.
“We rallied the troops last year,” Layne said, calling the possibility of closures disappointing. He said no attempts have been made to use public funding yet, but that it is an option that may be explored in the future.
Layne said budgetary concerns for keeping the pools open — made up mostly of maintenance costs — have been around for a long time. He estimates upkeep costs at about $30,000 per year.
More patrons at the pools may offset the costs of keeping the pools open and that losing the pools would adversely affect the neighborhood.
“Kids need a place to play and work,” Layne said.
Department of Recreation Director Gregory Orner did not respond to calls seeking comment for this story.
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected])