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Posted on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:32 p.m.

Future of Ann Arbor's Mack Pool topic of Thursday meeting

By Ryan J. Stanton

The future of Ann Arbor's Mack Pool will be the topic of discussion Thursday as supporters of the city-owned pool meet to evaluate options for saving it from closing.

The public is encouraged to attend a meeting hosted by the Mack Pool Task Force, a group of Ann Arbor citizens and community leaders looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenues at the indoor pool.

"We still think the community should have a year-round pool," said Ed Sketch, coordinator of the task force and a member of Friends of Mack Pool. "Our goal to try to get the pool to be self-sustaining. It's not an easy problem, but that's our approach."

Mack Pool operations currently require a nearly $100,000 annual subsidy from the city's general fund, which has city officials considering closing it.

Thursday's meeting is set from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the media center at Ann Arbor Open School at Mack, 715 Brooks St., near Seventh and Miller.

Ann Arbor swimmers, neighborhood residents, and other members of the public are encouraged to attend and participate in evaluating options for keeping the pool open. The task force is working to find sustainable ways to retain the pool as a city-owned fitness resource after the current budget year ends in June 2010.

Organizers said Thursday's meeting will bring attendees up to date with a city staff presentation summarizing the pool's current situation and the timeline for making a decision. The group then will split up to share ideas and brainstorm on topics suggested by the task force.

Before the meeting ends, participants will reconvene to report and share ideas to the whole group.

Sketch, a retired Ford Motor Co. employee who swims at Mack Pool four times a week, said the task force has had positive discussions with city leaders. He said the group has put together a working business plan that needs some tweaking.

"We've got a lot of great ideas but we haven't yet found a way to integrate them," Sketch said, suggesting the group also needs to calculate exact figures for how much an hour it currently costs to run the pool.

Sketch said USA Swimming of Colorado Springs has provided the group with a lot of technical advice.

One of the cost-reduction strategies the group has identified so far is getting a thermal blanket to cover the pool when it's not in use to help reduce temperature loss and evaporation of chemicals.

On the revenue enhancing side, Sketch said one of the ideas discussed includes getting the school system, which has more hours blocked off than it uses, to free up more hours for programs that bring in new users and revenue.

"We've got a boatload of ideas, and it's just a question of knowing what hours would be available," Sketch said.

"Our model has always been to try to get us to cover costs," he added. "At the end of the day, it may take a year or two to fully break even, but we're not looking for the taxpayer to bail the pool out if we can avoid that."

The Mack Pool Task Force is chaired by City Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward. The group's findings are expected to be presented to the City Council in February for possible inclusion in the fiscal year 2010-11 budget.

Hohnke said he's looking forward to hearing the community's input at Thursday's meeting and then again on Dec. 10.

"The gap we're trying to bridge is significant, but I'm optimistic we'll get there," Hohnke said. "We've got a talented and energetic group of citizens coming together to help create a solution for the community. And the AAPS has been a valuable partner in this process."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Vanessa clarke

Sun, Nov 15, 2009 : 7:19 p.m.

Where is the update on the outcome of this meeting? What happened? What is the next stage in this process? I expected this story to be updated as has been the case with other ongoing stories?


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 9:27 a.m.

Our youngest son learned to swim at Mack while a student there and our grandchildren have learned to swim at the Saturday morning swim classes. The pool is a city treasure and must be kept open. Has anyone considered keeping it open during the Fall, Winter and Spring only, since other pools are open in the Summer?

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 12:26 a.m.

Just for clarification: 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 what the task force is working to chip away at through cost reduction and revenue enhancing strategies, This and more background information can be found in our last story by clicking on the second hyperlink in this entry.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:47 p.m.

Eliminate the Art Urinal from city hall and there'll be plenty of money for the pool and the Burns Park Senior center, too. Just shows where the priorities are in city hall - they should open the windows down there and smell the smell of smoldering taxpayers.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 9:15 p.m.

$100,000 annual operating cost is about the average cost of a single City of Ann Arbor employee. Eliminating one position through attrition will help keep this pool and valuable asset open for the community. This should be easy.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 9 p.m.

I think we might consider asking those in the Parks & Rec Department who make over $100,000/year, or those who make nearly $100,000/year, what they're doing to help out with the current budget crunch. I think we might hear from them, "Close Mack Pool!! if that's what it will take to maintain my salary and my benefits package."


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 7:58 p.m.

If we call Mack Pool a Wetlands, Then the city will have to fund it and protect it? The swimmers can be endangered spieces. Green Peace will help out then.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 7:31 p.m.

not $100m, or even $1m. $750k...which financed over 30 years is about $50k/year...or about 6 months of Mack pool subsidy. If it's used by thousands, (let's say 5,000), an increase of $20/year would cover the cost. Personally, I think a public pool should not be forced to be self-sufficient, but posts which are partially obscene and factually sloppy deserve a counterpoint.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 6:55 p.m.

Excellent point Moose. Who is realy going to see the urinal in that location? People driving by for a split second maybe.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 5:08 p.m.

Let's see... The Driesetl designed City Hall Urinal, about $100,000,000. Seen by a few art elites and the drive by tourists. Mack pool used by thousands of residents year round. The money spent on The Urinal would keep Mack Pool open for about 10 years.