Swimming pool needs more thought

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

At first glance, a public swimming pool in Natchez seems like a good idea.

Natchez summers are sizzling hot. Swimming is a part of summer-time fun, and unless you are a member of a private club, access to a swimming pool is very limited. Students interested in competitive swimming have no access to a public, Olympic-sized swimming pool.

However, so much more goes into the cost of a municipal pool than its construction.

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On Monday, the Adams County Board of Supervisors was asked to consider chipping in $500,000 to help fund a public swimming pool. The county funds would match approximately $500,000 in community development funds the City of Natchez receives from Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

The committee designated to oversee the allocation of those casino funds has suggested the construction of a community swimming pool would spur other recreation opportunities here.

Board president Darryl Grennell said a swimming facility is something the community has long needed.

Maybe so, but many questions should be answered before anyone moves forward with this project.

Some of those questions include how the city and the county afford maintaining the swimming pool? The last time we checked both the city and the county had existing financial worries. Who will manage the pool, and how will that be funded? How will we fund the payment of the liability insurance needed for the pool?

The City of Natchez operated a municipal swimming pool at Duncan Park off and on until the late 1990s. It closed because it was a maintenance and management nightmare, including the fact that parents would drop their children off there and leave them unsupervised.

A swimming pool is best managed by an agency with experience in doing so successfully, such as a YMCA.

Maybe the better move would be to see how the city and county could recruit and help fund a YMCA or similar agency to build a full-service facility and manage it professionally.

An agency such as a YMCA would go a long way toward offering our community a number of the recreation opportunities we seek for residents young and old.