Bibb committee votes to extend hours at East Macon pool | News
The East Macon community pool, previously open every other day, will now be open six days a week.
A Macon-Bibb County committee voted 4-1 Tuesday morning to make the change.
Extending one pool's hours is a compromise that came at the request of Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who previously asked that all of the county's pools extend hours of operations to give youth more to do during the summer months.
"I've been hearing from the very beginning of the swim season, 'Why in the world are the pools only open a few days? Why aren't they open as many days as possible?'" Lucas said.
This is the first year county pools are open every other day. Last year, three of six county pools were open each weekday.
The committee extended hours at the East Macon pool because it has the most activity, averaging about 200 kids on its busiest days.
During Tuesday's Operations and Finance Committee meeting, Mayor Robert Reichert said it would be too costly for the county to extend hours at all of the pools.
He also said it's not the Commission's job to make administrative decisions.
"The commission will set policy and budget and let the administration work out the details with the money you allocated," he said. "If you don't like what we're doing, certainly, you can come in and say, 'we're just getting so many complaints from our constituents. We think you need to change the focus.' That's your role. But to sit here and try to dictate hours of operation for individual swimming pools, I think is a mistake on your part."
If the pools were open every day, recreation director Doc Dougherty said the county would have to hire five or six additional life guards.
He says it costs the county $3,500 per guard and $7,000 in chemicals per pool for the summer swim season.
"By opening every day, we might bring additional revenue in but our expenses would go up drastically and since our pools cost a lot more money than our revenue coming in, it would just kind of be chasing the tail," Dougherty said.
Commissioner Gary Bechtel, chair of the Operations and Finance Committee voted against extending hours at the East Macon pool. Commissioners Lucas, Larry Schlesinger, Virgil Watkins and Scotty Shepherd voted yes.
Shepherd, a former sheriff's deputy, said he supports giving the youth additional recreational opportunities.
But unlike what some in the community argue, he says it won't stop crime.
"I don't see where opening a swimming pool is going to reduce our shootings," Commissioner Scotty Shepherd said. "I don't think any of the people the sheriff has locked up recently have used our swimming pools. I don't think that they took time off from their drug dealing to go swim."
Dougherty says they will try to open East Macon pool daily starting next week.