Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Swimmers plead to keep New Port Richey pools open year-round

NEW PORT RICHEY — Mayor Bob Consalvo said budget constraints may force winter pool closures at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center. That idea is not sitting well with local swimmers.

On Tuesday evening, a local youth swim team crowded around the lectern in the City Council chambers to plead for keeping the pools open year-round.

For months the city has been looking at measures to drum up business at the recreation center, which continues to hemorrhage money since it opened in 2007. Last year the city collected $453,000 in revenue but spent more than $1 million to run the facility.

Council members took the first step Tuesday toward generating more revenue by increasing membership fees. The yearly rate for adults increases from $150 to $200 for city residents and $250 for nonresidents. The yearly family rate will go from $300 to $330 for city residents and $378 for nonresidents. The new rates take effect Monday, with existing memberships staying at their current rate until renewal, according to city parks officials.

The larger battle looms ahead, as the council will consider proposals on swim team rentals and possible pool closings.

Teen swimmers for the Tampa Bay Aquatics New Port Richey team told council members about all the good things swimming has done for their lives: better grades, healthier lifestyles, something to occupy their time other than trouble, and in one member's case, a shot at college.

Mazie Siddens, 18, said the work she has put in at the recreation center has contributed to her earning a college swimming scholarship this fall.

"For that, I am blessed. I just want to make sure those behind me have the same opportunity," she said, referring to the younger swimmers on the team.

Recreational swimmer Darrel Goad told the council that swimming at the center has made him healthier and has become a major part of his life. Another swimmer, Alan Witt, told the Times that any pool closures would be a huge blow.

"It would rip my heart out," said Witt, who starts every day swimming at the center at 6 a.m.

The problem for the city, according to Consalvo, is there aren't enough recreational swimmers like Goad and Witt to cover the costs of keeping the pool open during winter months, when costs skyrocket to keep it heated.

"We only have around 10 or 12 recreational swimmers that come every day to exercise. And most of them show up around 6 a.m., so we have to pay for the staff to be there, and during the winter we have to heat the pool," Consalvo said.

Consalvo said he believes the city will likely have no choice but to close pools at the center from December through February, but that will be debated at a future meeting. The mayor also said he would be open to swim teams coming up with plans for winter practice time if they are willing to cover the costs of lifeguards and heating the pool.

Tampa Bay Aquatics parent Hal Blethroad said he wasn't comforted that the city is taking longer to look at pool operations.

"It still leaves us up in the air," Blethroad said.

As for the membership fee increases approved Tuesday, only time will tell if the new rates bring more money or fewer memberships. Last year the city dramatically raised the cost of its summer camp program — from $40 to $80 a week for city residents, and from $50 to $150 a week for non-residents — only to chase everyone away.

On Tuesday, the council backed away from that rate hike because the city had virtually no takers, said Consalvo, who was on the losing end of last year's 3-2 vote to raise the camp fees. Instead, the council changed the rates again, this time to $50 a week for city residents and $60 a week for non-residents.

"It's my understanding no one has paid yet (under the old rates). And because of the higher rates we would not have had a camp," the mayor said Wednesday. "That's why I voted against it. I knew there would be trouble for people in this area meeting those costs."

New rates

City Council approved a new fee schedule on Tuesday to generate more revenue for the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center at 6630 Van Buren St. Here are the new fees:

Youth$4$5(up from $3)
Senior$5$6(up from $3)
Adult$6$7(up from $5)
3-month membership
Youth$50$62(previously $50)
Senior$75$94(up from $50)
Adult$100$125(up from $75)
Family$165$192(up from $150)
Annual membership
Youth$100$125(previously $100)
Senior$150$187(up from $100)
Adult$200$250(up from $150)
Family$330$378(up from $300)

Note: Active duty military and veterans receive a 10 percent discount for individual memberships.

New Port Richey City Council

Swimmers plead to keep New Port Richey pools open year-round 05/02/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended


    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.