Parks Board Recommends non-resident fee increase at pool

The Bowling Green Parks Board on Tuesday voted to approve a 50-cent increase on the daily fee for non-resident attendees at the City Pool and Water Park complex this year.

The matter will now go before council for final approval. The board additionally approved two policy changes, including an earlier closing date for the pool.

Fees have not been raised at the pool since 2019.

If approved by council, the 50-cent increase would raise the daily non-resident adult fee from $7.50 to $8, raise the youth fee from $6.75 to $7.25, and raise the child fee from $5 to $5.50. Those changes could be expected to increase revenues by about $6,177.

However, at the January meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley also noted that with the minimum wage increasing 80 cents this year, staffing expenses will increase by about $7,900 based on total employee hours worked in 2022.

The board also unanimously approved a policy change to close the City Pool and Water Park for the season once Bowling Green City Schools begin classes in August. School will begin on Aug. 22 this year. Ordinarily, the pool has been closed during the week when school begins again, and is open for the last two weekends of the season, including Labor Day weekend. However, Aquatics and Fitness Manager Josh Chatfield said on Tuesday that as soon as the Wood County Fair starts, pool attendance drops about 75%, and when sports practices start up, and college students return to classes, the pool loses one-third to one-half of its staff.

Under the new plan, while the pool itself would be closed, the facility’s Splash Pad, which does not require staff to be present, would be open on those days instead.

Further, the board approved a second policy change to require reusable swim pants instead of disposable swim diapers for pool visitors who are not potty trained. The move is aimed at reducing fecal incidents at the pool. According to a document provided at the board’s January meeting, such incidents cost the pool between $750 and $3,625 each.

The document stated that “disposable swim diapers are currently required and it has taken years to realize that disposable swim diapers are incapable of containing fecal matter and preventing fecal contamination of public swimming water… The Bowling Green City Pool and Water Park experiences roughly a half a dozen fecal incidents annually,” which is not only a public health issue, but also “the cost to clean the water is high, and the negative image associated with swimming in water with human feces in it can turn people away, leading to lost revenue.”

Due to a grant from the Bowling Green Community Foundation, the pool will be providing families with a free reusable swim pant, and they also plan to have them available for sale at the pool’s concession stand for cost.

“The hope is, making this effort could prevent half of the incidents that we get,” Chatfield said on Tuesday. “Just decreasing by half would be a victory.” He said that they plan to “do a lot of public service announcement-type stuff” to educate people around the issue.