Just outside an empty pool Tuesday evening, Dearborn citizens upset about the city’s decision to shut down six neighborhood pools rallied against the cuts.
The Save Our Pools committee was founded in April 2010. Since then, the group has done its research to find ways Dearborn can raise money by and for keeping the pools around. At the rally Tuesday night, three poster boards of statistics were hung on the fence, one of which presented an increase in revenue plan. Protestors at the rally sported white and blue Save Our Pools T-shirts.
The committee has had great help from sponsors and community support, according to SOP member Ryan Woods. Woods has worked for the pools for 10 years and said he hopes Dearborn will make the right decision to keep them open.
“Me and the wife were talking about doing lessons with our 1-year-old at the time and said, 'Hey, why not do some lessons in the summer? We’ve got some great pools in Dearborn,’” Woods said. “Two weeks later we hear they want to close six pools and demolish them.”
Those six pools, according to presented in April by Mayor Jack O'Reilly, would include Ten Eyck, and in FY 2011-2012 and , and in 2012-2013. The 3-year budget before City Council on June 7 after a public hearing on June 6.
SOP’s studies showed that according to their numbers, Dearborn had 78,000 pool users last year, 75,000 users in 2009 and 74,000 in 2008.
“Numbers are going up. (We're) seeing kids all over the neighborhood,” Woods said. “It’s getting busier.”
Woods also said that these numbers were presented to City Council, which had a Facility Condition Assessment and Space Study that said $3.8 million dollars over five years were spent on pool maintenance.
“We told them we thought that was high, and they came back with an NSA study of 1.2 million so we went line item by line item and we came up with $183,000,” Woods said.
Pat Clark, 61, has lived in Dearborn her whole life, and said that she feels putting an end to the homecoming festival would save the city a lot more money than shutting down the pools.
“That’s the biggest one,” Clark said of homecoming. “Let’s face it: The economy sucks and they don’t have the sponsorship they used to and the city does pay a lot of money for that."
“I think (the pools are) one of the unique things there is about Dearborn, because every neighborhood does have a pool," she added. "Sure, there are other pools that I could go to, but there’s going to be overcrowding."
Overcrowded pools could also be dangerous for the community, according to one of the Dunworth Pool's lifeguards, who stated that nine saves were made on Memorial Day and four were made the following day. Dunworth opened this past Saturday.
Clark also mentioned that she thought parking had become an issue.