Cost analysis sinks hopes of opening Sunset Pool

Potential pool operator says recent attendance rates won’t cover expenses.

Shepherd, who owns and operates S & S Construction and Pools, said after taking a long, hard look at the pool’s declining attendance rates — only 6,676 paying customers in 2009 — she no longer thinks it could be a viable operation.

“The number of customers just is not there,” Shepherd said. “It’s too big a risk for me to take without some type of financial backing.”

Sunset would require roughly $22,000 per month to operate, according to her calculations. Assuming attendance is on par with last year, the pool would only bring in an estimated $26,000 over the course of the summer.

“There’s just no way of making those numbers work,” she said. “So it’s on the back burner for now.”

The pool was closed following last summer’s swim season, with no room in the city budget to finance its operations and a three-year $150,000 operating grant from AK Steel Corp. dried up. City officials put the cost to operate the pool for the 2009 season at slightly more than $57,000.

Earlier this month, Middletown’s Park Board encouraged Shepherd to bring her plan before City Council. Board members seemed optimistic, though board Chairman Ralph Connor said he sees the demand for summer swimming diminishing.

“If you could operate the pool for the city, I think you would accomplish what most park boards agree is an activity that people seek,” Connor said. “Your question is are there enough (swimmers) for us to pay the bills and still make enough to make it worth our while.

“That’s the magic question: Does that situation exist?”

Shepherd said without some sort of assistance from either the city or a private financier there’s no way to open the pool.

“I like to think there are still kids who would come and spend the day at the pool, but you just don’t know anymore,” she said.

Contact this reporter at (513) 705-2871 or at rgauthier@coxohio.com.

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