Cooler summer not the best for public pools


GREEN BAY - A warm up this weekend in Northeast Wisconsin is bringing with it a real taste of summer. But up until now summer has been reluctant to get going, and that has been impacting local pools.

This past Monday at the Resch Aquatic Center, there was plenty of sun, but temperatures were in the low 70s, so there was also plenty elbow room for anyone there.

On Tuesday VFW Park in De Pere, it was a little more crowded, but only because of a nearby day camp. Passing showers kept anyone else away.

And so it has gone this summer in Northeast Wisconsin for many public pools.

"Summer hasn't really started and it's mid-July," said Stacey Johnson of Green Bay. "I'm freezing and they're calling me wussies because I'm not in the pool right now."

The kids are still having fun, but what about city budgets?

Well, there actually isn't much concern that this year has been slow. Operating costs are budgeted the year before, and municipalities don't really count on making money from admission or concessions.

"We don't depend on popcorn sales to subsidize other programs," said Stephanie Schlag, De Pere Parks and Rec Supervisor. "It helps balance out and lessen some of the subsidy that the city provides to run these pools. We know it's a service for the community."

But towns still like to recoup some money. And in De Pere, swimming class enrollment has been surprisingly strong even with the cool weather.

"They are better from last year up to this date," said Schlag. "We only had one session so far, we have two more to go, and we'll hopefully keep our fingers crossed for the rest of the year."

The one thing that has suffered at times is hours for the lifeguards and other workers.

"If it's less than 70 degrees we're typically talking about closing early. So if we do close early, the staff does get sent home." said Ann Moeller, Green Bay recreation supervisor.

But even if the air temperatures isn't ideal, the pools are usually kept around 80 degrees.

Sunday the city of Appleton is offering a free day to get those under the age of 17 to the pool. And the forecast is for temperatures in the 80s, perfect for the pool.