On Monday afternoon, the Presque Isle High School swim team was just starting to get their laps in at the city’s indoor pool. Their practices there could be numbered if the Presque Isle City Council approves a budget that would close the indoor pool for good.
City Manager Jim Bennett says, “with the capital money that’s necessary to be able to put in the pool with a new roof – that’s about 1/4 million dollars..some decking issues and other items, the council decided that we could not have our own pool just to say that we have our own pool.”
Bennett says they could close the pool as early as January, and closing it would save the city at least 100 thousand dollars a year. Bennett says they’re working on a collaborative plan with the staff at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Gentile Hall, so that the vast majority of the programs – like swimming lessons – will still be offered at essentially the same rate, just at a different pool.
Bennett says, “there is going to be people that will be impacted. In order to come to the indoor pool that the city ran, come in the morning and do laps and those kinds of things, our fee is much less than what UMPI’s fee is.”
According to their website, a Gentile Hall yearly membership fee for an individual with an income of more than 30 thousand dollars would cost 325 dollars. The closure of the indoor pool comes just months after the city closed its outdoor pool – which did have a lot of people up in arms – Bennett says they were always looking at closing the indoor pool and moving services to UMPI when they build the community center – now, it’s just happening a lot sooner.
Bennett says, “the last couple years have been absolutely the most miserable .. There is nothing inherently fair about any of this. Its not the employees fault, its not the property tax payers fault, its not the councils fault, there isn’t anybody that’s at fault but it’s the cold reality that we don’t have the revenues.”
In the proposed budget for the 2014 year – Bennett says the city will not cut the police department though they did look into it, and the price of solid waste bags will go up by a dime.
Gentile Hall director Dick Gardiner said in a statement, “the University is very committed to our community and we would be very pleased to help provide our pool as an alternate location to serve our community should it be needed.”