City pool, boosted by swim team, ends year in black
VERGENNES — Thanks to what Vergennes officials called good management and a successful summer for the Vergennes Champs swim team, the city pool will end 2017 about $12,000 in the black, according to City Manager Mel Hawley.
Hawley said during the Sept. 12 city council meeting that the current fund balance for the Sam Fishman Pool stands at $15,660, with a few bills outstanding. Immediately after the meeting he estimated that once those bills are paid roughly $12,000 would remain.
Mayor Michael Daniels said at the meeting the city’s pool advisory committee is recommending that the edge of the pool and possibly its expansion joints be re-caulked, and he backed that suggestion.
“We should at least consider caulking around the edge of the pool, reinvest the money,” Daniels said.
Hawley credited Jen Kingsley, the pool’s longtime swimming lesson coordinator, for her efforts in her first year as pool director. He said her efforts in managing labor led to a significantly lower costs, and said they dropped not just because of June’s poor weather.
“That wasn’t the rain,” he said.
Hawley added that the pool also saved money on labor and chemical costs by switching to having city sewer plant workers take over the task of treating the pool’s water, rather than pool employees.
Another major factor in the good financial news was growth in the Vergennes Champs program. In 2015 70 swimmers signed up, and this year’s roster stood at 122. Each swimmer on the team is required to buy a pool pass at $50 for a city resident and $65 for a non-resident, with family passes running at $100 and $130 depending on residency.
“We had a really great year in many ways,” said team president Bill Clark, at the meeting to report on the team’s season.
Clark said team officials and parents were happy to see more kids between the ages of 5 and 18 participate in the healthy activity, and to be able to contribute more to a valuable city asset.
“We want to get kids engaged in it,” Clark said. “It also brings more money into the pool, which makes it more sustainable.”
Clark credited the team’s coaches, parents and officials for working hard to “build a community around swimming” that included good food and music at practices and meets that made them seem “more like a party.”
Clark said the Champs coaches used a variety of team-building activities at practices to make them more enjoyable for the participants, and that team officials and parents did a lot of outreach and intend to do more this offseason and next summer, with a goal of 150 swimmers.
“We had a lot of fun and we have a lot of plans for next year,” he said.
The partnership with city officials and workers “made it a great season for the pool, not just the swim team,” Clark said.
He added the Champs have also committed to pay the full cost of a new robot vacuum that will free up Kingsley from the labor-intensive task of hand vacuuming; previously the team had committed to spend up to $2,000 for half the cost of a system.
Daniels acknowledged that “it takes a team” to made the swim team successful, but also praised Clark, who is also expected to become the new Champlain Valley Swim League president.
“I want to congratulate you as a leader,” Daniels said.
Alderman Renny Perry added the swim team creates an economic ripple effect by bringing visitors to Vergennes for its meets and those visitors then shop for items such as snacks, drinks and meals.
“I want to thank the swim team for its economic impact on Vergennes,” Perry said. “There’s another great benefit to having a good swim team.”
In other business at the Sept. 12 meeting, council members:
• Heard from Perry, also the Vergennes Partnership president, that the Agency of Transportation is seeking a nonprofit entity to occupy the former city train depot that overlooks the VTrans park-and-ride lot and that is intended in the future to serve as an Amtrak station. Perry said work on a rail platform should begin next spring, with rail service set for 2019 or 2020. A nonprofit tenant that would sell tickets and run a welcome center could get a favorable rental agreement, Perry said.
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