Don't worry, that woman in swimming goggles just wants to keep Ann Arbor's Mack Pool from closing
If you see a woman wearing swimming goggles around town on Saturday, don't be alarmed.Â
We're told she's an ordinarily mild-mannered librarian who has decided to raise awareness about the threat of Ann Arbor's Mack Pool closing.
Her identity is still a mystery to us, but word on the street is she'll be setting up a table outside the People's Food Co-Op on Fourth Avenue with swimming gear, pool information, posters and portents to draw attention to the issue. An tipster tells us she intends to be noticed, and her background in drama should ensure her success.
The fate of Mack Pool has been uncertain in recent months as city officials pondered closing it due to budget constraints. The City Council recently appointed several members to a newly formed Mack Pool Task Force headed up by Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward. The group's goal is to work with city staff to develop a self-sustaining financial plan for the indoor pool.
Council Member Christopher Taylor, D-3rd Ward, said he was chosen to serve on the task force because of his background with the city's Park Advisory Commission and City/School Committee. He thinks the pool can be saved.
"If we didn't think it was capable of being saved, we wouldn't be doing the hard work to save it," Taylor said. "There are school representatives on the task force, and we are all working together toward the common purpose of saving the pool."
The city's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011, which will be considered by City Council in May, currently recommends closing the pool.
The total cost of operating the pool in the city's current fiscal year budget is $224,513. However, only $122,100 in revenue is projected, meaning it will require a $102,413 general fund subsidy.
That's a deficit city officials say can't continue to occur as the city confronts even bigger fiscal challenges. The city is projecting millions of dollars in shortfalls next year due to continually increasing costs and the current economic crisis that's resulted in state revenue sharing cuts and declining property tax revenues. The city administrator earlier this year proposed a two-year budget plan that calls for reducing general fund expenses by 10 percent to prevent illegal deficit spending.
The Mack Pool Task Force is working with Ann Arbor Public Schools, a significant user of Mack Pool, to explore cost sharing options and ways to maximize use of the pool. The group is examining options for increasing revenues and reducing costs.
The task force's findings are expected to presented to the City Council in February and will be considered for inclusion in the fiscal year 2011 budget.
"So far we have divided up essentially into revenue and expense teams and brainstormed as to what possible solutions we can come to to decrease the general fund subsidy of the pool," Taylor said. "We are still in the creativity phase, trying to determine what is achievable and possible."
Mack Pool, located on Brooks Street near the intersection of Seventh and Miller, offers public swimming and swimming programs in a six-lane, 25-yard main pool attached to a children's pool. It serves about 4,000 city residents who make about 30,000 visits a year, according to the city.
Supporters say the pool provides important amenities not offered at other facilities, including a handicapped-accessible ramp to the pool and capacity to host year-round indoor programming.
Other members of the Mack Pool Task Force include:
â€¢ Scott Rosencrans, a Park Advisory Commission member.
â€¢ Â Lynden Kelly of the A2QUA swim group.
â€¢ Â Ed Sketch, a Mack Pool neighbor, season pass holder and regular lunch time lapÂ swimmer.
â€¢ Â Nell Stern, Dawn Ducks annual pass holder.
â€¢ Â Kristin Burgard, Masters Swimmer, A2QUA Swimmer, and regular swimmer.
â€¢ Â Chris Murphy, Synchronized Swimming group.
â€¢ Â Randy Trent, AAPS Administration.
â€¢ Â Sara Aeschbach, AAPS Community Education and Recreation.
â€¢ Â Naomi Zikmund-Fisher, principal of Ann Arbor Open School at Mack.
â€¢ Â Jayne Miller, the city's community services area administrator.
â€¢ Â Colin Smith, parks and recreation manager.
â€¢ Â Dan McGuire, parks and recreation supervisor.
â€¢ Â Kevin McDonald, assistant city attorney.