WATERVILLE — Both residents and nonresidents will pay higher fees than in 2019 to use the Alfond Municipal Pool on North Street, but residents will not have to pay an extra fee for using the slides.

That was the decision City Councilors made Tuesday night in an effort to give residents a break on slide use, at least for this year, and still move toward a goal of making the pool self-sustainable by charging nonresidents more for using the slides.

The 7-0 vote followed lengthy discussion about whether the city should delay a fee increase this summer to residents who are just coming out of a difficult coronavirus pandemic or increase fees for everyone to help pay for $1 million the city borrowed as part of a project to replace the pool and do other improvements. The $4 million project was largely funded by a grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation.

The pool did not open in 2020 because of gathering limits due to the pandemic.

This is the first year that the fee schedule includes separate costs for using the pool and slides.

Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, moved to keep all fees the same as 2019 for Waterville residents, but only he and Councilor Flavia Oliveira, D-Ward 2, supported that idea, which failed in a 4-2 vote. Councilor Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, proposed increasing fees as proposed but waiving the proposed higher rate for one year to residents using the slides as well as the pool.

Francke was the only councilor who rejected the increased fee schedule for residents, but ultimately approved it with a caveat. He said he would support it because the city needs to open the pool.

“But I’m very disappointed that we’re trying to make money on the backs of our kids coming out of the pandemic,” he said.

Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, who had argued that the city needs to move toward making the pool complex self-sustaining, shot back at Francke.

“I’m disappointed that Councilor Francke would characterize it that way, and I’m going to vote ‘Yes,'” he said.

The pool is scheduled to open Saturday, June 19, after undergoing a $4 million pool replacement and renovation project. In the spring of last year, a committee was formed to develop a business plan for the pool. A new rate structure was developed.

With Tuesday’s council vote, daily pool admission rates for resident children will be increased by $1, from $4 to $5; for adults for pool use only, from $5 to $6; and remain free for seniors. Nonresident children will pay $7 for daily pool admission; nonresident adults, $10; and seniors, $5 for the pool only.

A nonresident child would pay $10 to use both the pool and slides; a nonresident adult, $13 for the pool and slides; and nonresident seniors, $5 for either just the pool or the pool and slides.

Individual season pass rates are increasing by $10 for both residents and nonresidents, but residents will not have to pay an added slide fee. Resident and nonresident family season pass rates, for four family members, also have increased. A combination pool and slide pass is new this year.

Councilors on Tuesday also discussed with Parks & Recreation Director Matt Skehan the idea of having free swim days or weekends for residents and possibly keeping the pool open an extra week at the end of the season for residents only. Skehan said officials will do their best to keep the pool open an extra week but it depends on whether there is adequate staff to do so.

“It really is a staffing issue and we have a staffing issue just opening the pool,” he said.

Oliveira noted that there are scholarships available for resident families that cannot afford pool fees, and they may apply for them through the Parks & Recreation Department.

 

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