YMCA steps up to help pool; you can help, too

Summer swimming in Hedges-Boyer Park is a Tiffin tradition. It is more than that. It is an important part of who we are and what we do. It is how we strengthen our community, support our values and serve the families of Tiffin. We must and will keep our city swimming pool open for the summer.

Your Park and Recreation Board, with the full support and cooperation of the mayor and Tiffin City Council, has been exploring ways to stabilize our park and recreation programs and maintain our park grounds and facilities in the face of serious budget cuts. There are no easy answers. Once again, we must appeal to the good faith and support of Tiffin citizens to accept some limitations on programs and services and to step up by volunteering time and money to insure we continue to offer a high quality, year-’round park and recreation program for the community.

There always has been a short fall in the pool budget; expenditures are greater than revenues, on average about $30,000 a year. We have never seen this as a “loss,” because we believe expenditures on park and recreation is a taxpayer-provided “public good” and serves the best interests of the community. We don’t “break even” on walking trails, softball fields or park shelters. Sometimes we have, and always with regret, asked for user fees. We will continue to ask those who participate in programs to share the cost, but we also will do all we can to make our parks and our park facilities affordable for all our citizens.

This summer, to take some of the burden off our park professional staff (three very valuable and very hard-working people), who will have to maintain the parks and provide a modified summer recreation program with none of the staff assistance that we have had in the past, we are negotiating with the YMCA to take over the management of the city swimming pool. This will be a management contract, and we are very grateful to the “Y” for agreeing to help us out without requesting any compensation for these services (the ideal sub-contractor).

It is doing this solely for the good of the community, a tradition with our community YMCA. It will free up our park director, recreation director and groundskeeper to put in more time providing other essential park and recreation services. As part of our negotiation we are anticipating cost-cutting adjustments to pool hours and some revenue enhancements. The “Y’ will be responsible for selling pool passes, renting out the facility for evening events and keeping a sharp eye on expenses. All savings that are achieved will go directly toward reducing the operating deficit.

At the same time, we are partnering with Real Living Generations Realty to raise enough money to cover any operational shortfall, as neither the “Y” nor the city can afford to “lose” money on the operation of the pool this summer. Raising enough money to essentially guarantee a break-even operation is essential if the pool is to be opened. So far, fundraising has been very encouraging.

I want to personally thank Real Living for its support. Please contribute what you can to this fund. You can make a pledge or write a check to the Tiffin Pool and Fireworks Fund, in care of Vicki Ziegler, the fund treasurer, at (419) 618-0570, 25 Melmore St., Tiffin OH 44883. Any surplus will be carried over to next year, when we will reassess our plans for pool management and support.

Our parks are a living legacy. More than a reminder of the gifts we have received from those who have gone before us, they are our gift to future generations. We are privileged to hold these resources in trust. Help us prove worthy of this responsibility.