Media: Fianna Dickson, 509.625.6297 Pools: 509.625.6960
Friday, March 9, 2018 at 11:11 a.m.
With a goal of giving everyone a chance to swim, the Park Board approved a proposal to make open swimming free for adults and children at all six City aquatic centers beginning this year.
Parks and Recreation would like to reduce barriers for the community to access open swim times across all neighborhoods and to increase attendance for open swim, especially at underutilized pools like Liberty, A.M. Cannon and Hillyard. We also have a goal of helping more kids learn to swim, so they have this important life skill and benefit from the health aspects of swimming.
“Swimming is such a great way for kids to be kids during the warm summer months and an important life-long skill,” Spokane Mayor David Condon said. “We are thrilled to be able to offer a way for kids to enjoy themselves with friends and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
“Offering free open swim at city pools provides a great opportunity for many kids and families in our area,” said Nick Sumner, Park Board President. “Increasing access to our aquatic centers gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy a family-friendly activity that is fun, promotes safety, and leads to a healthier community.”
The total operational cost for all six centers was just over $1 million dollars last year. Revenue came in just under $200,000, what could be considered a relatively small gap to fill in exchange for offering free swimming. Funding for the proposal in 2018 will come from previous annual reserve excess. In 2019 and beyond, free swim will become part of the annual budget. No level of services within Parks and Recreation will be negatively impacted.
The approved proposal includes free open, parent-tot (a calm and exclusive swim time in the zero-entry area) and lap swimming, plus family nights. Swim lessons, novice swim team, aquatics fitness programs, and pool rentals will continue to have affordable, family-friendly rates.
We anticipate new swimmers will come to the pool, which may mean an increased need for lessons. We hope to re-direct the generous support of free swim days and passes from the Spokane Parks Foundation, Spokane Firefighters Union (Local 29), and Lions Club toward other opportunities like free swim lessons or extended open swim events.
The number of lifeguards is not anticipated to change, because Parks and Recreation staffs lifeguards for maximum capacity. There will be a small reduction in staffing as we eliminate the cashier position at pools, and a reduction in cash-handling expenses such as armored car services. Visitors will be able to bring in outside food, and vending machine options will be explored.
In 2017, rates were $2 for children and $4 for adults. People who have already purchased a season pass for 2018 will be refunded.
The aquatics season runs June 18 – August 25, with an extended season at Witter pool for lap swim from May 7 – September 14.
About City of Spokane Parks and Recreation
The City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department is the place to go for events, activities, classes and more. Enjoy all your city has to offer by visiting our website at spokaneparks.org. For more information, follow us @SpokaneParks on Facebook and Twitter.