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Ask Mr. Answer Person: "Why was the Decorah Swimming Pool closed Friday night?"

Posted: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 8:15 AM

Anna e-mails Mr. Answer Person: "I have read your story about the pool getting a lot of use over the summer this year and agree that it's been a hot one.  Yet (Friday) evening, when I went up to the pool at 6:50 p.m., there was a sign on the door saying that the pool was closed due to lack of attendance.  I am finding this very frustrating as my doctors have just put me in a big walking boot and said that I can take it off to sleep and to swim.  Now, I am stuck without anyone to complain to until Monday.  How are pool complaints best resolved over the weekends?  And when are we finally going to have reliable hours for our pool that go past the start of the school year?  Or will we forever be stuck with an "early out?"

Mr. Answer Person says: "I can often be found in the shallow section of the Decorah Swimming Pool, wearing my water wings, so this is one question where I can actually answer a question all on my own, without having to traipse to an office to get a "factually correct" answer.

So here's a little background first.  The Decorah Swimming Pool is very expensive to operate.  There's the cost of electricity for the pumps, the cost of the chemicals, but, most of all, the cost of staffing the pool.

Every year the City of Decorah operates the pool at a financial loss.  Some years are better than others, but it is all taxpayers--not just swimmers--who end up paying for a portion of the cost of operating the swimming pool. 

We all know how much people enjoy getting their taxes raised!  So while, as a swimmer, I am 100 percent in favor of a 24 hour-a-day swimming pool that is open from May 1st through September 30th, I am realistic enough to understand that the swimming pool managers are just being prudent when they shut down the swimming pool when hardly anyone is there.

As for operating the pool after school starts, the start of classes mean that kids--who are the primary customers of the pool--can't go swimming.  The Decorah Swimming Pool usually operates at a reduced schedule for a week or two after the start of school, but it usually waits until it has a weather forecast for the week or two coming up before it promises to be open during cool temperatures.

I understand this isn't the answer you were hoping for, Anna, but Mr. Answer Person likes to be "factually correct."

I will agree with you on one (unstated) complaint--that the Decorah Swimming Pool could do a better job of letting the public know that it will close if attendance drops below a certain level.  The Swimming Pool information given out this year by Decorah Park-Rec makes no mention of this long-standing practice.  They don't need to tell long-time swimmers this information--but not everyone has lived here for 25 years.  So a better job of publicizing swimming pool information wouldn't hurt.

Finally, speaking of swimming pool information, you can always call the pool at 382-2055 (NOTE: CORRECTED phone number) if you have any doubt about whether the pool is open.  If they don't answer the phone, it's because the pool is closed!

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