Coraline’s jumping and laughing were a constant this summer. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

 

OK, OK, OK, calm down.

This is not a scathing criticism of the Burlington Community Aquatic Center staff or anybody in particular.

For those that don’t know, the city’s new pool, perhaps the best thing that has ever happened to the community across all ages, is scheduled to close Saturday, Aug. 25, nine days before the unofficial end of summer – Labor Day.

I’ve hit the pavement and, like any good reporter, kept my eyes and ears open to the people who work, play and love the pool.

Full disclosure, I may be the place’s biggest cheerleader.

My 4-year-old daughter Coraline and I have made the most out of our bargain $175 family membership, probably swimming at least 25 days out of the possible 80 so far.

But on Tuesday when I heard from an employee that the pool was closing down shop so early, my first reaction was heartbreak and eventually wonder.

I wonder why this community marvel, a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art facility in terms of overall value with amenities and low prices, can’t stay open nine more days, which mathematically equates to 10 percent of the summer (9 missed days of 90 summer day).

In fairness, one pool board member said the pool has always closed one weekend before Labor Day weekend. Not a big deal. It’s a staff issue, since only a select few are certified lifeguards and others must return to their actual jobs or travel to college.

But why rest on the past? With a beautiful, new facility, why can’t staying open through Labor Day become a reality? If not this year, which I understand, how about next summer?

As a responsible citizen, community member, taxpayer and lover of the pool I’ve swam in for 30 years, I refuse to simply walk away from this and shut my mouth.

Something needs to be addressed, and I would like us, the informed public, to find a solution.

Why does the pool have to close?

I wasn’t going to write anything until I ran into a mother of four young children Thursday at the pool.

She seemed thunderstruck by the news and questioned the decision. Anyone with a brain would assume summer ends after Labor Day weekend, and the money-making opportunities seem huge.

But part of me understands.

The new aquatic center, which definitely is the coolest swimming venue in southeastern Wisconsin, when you consider stuff to do and the CHEAP prices, was a phenomenal success this summer.

Swimmers enter the pool Wednesday evening. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

The $5 million price tag was a ridiculous bargain for us city residents, and the future return on investment will be exponential.

But now I want the leaders of the pool to take a long, hard look at the social impact on the community.

 

Here’s my kind-hearted, positive, non-controversial, I love you pool big shots solutions to the current “closing”:

1. Take a day off Sunday

– Use this day to re-evaluate the final week’s plan, along with calling staff to find workers to fill the rest of the summer. Heck, maybe even reach out to the Aurora Wellness Center and find out if you can pirate a few lifeguards.

2. Close early Monday through Thursday

Fun times, man, we want more fun times. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

– Considering potential fall-like temperatures and cooler overnight lows, open at your regular time next week and close at 5 p.m., saving three hours of operating costs, staff, etc. (heck, open at noon or 1 if necessary) Hate to say it, but it’s forecast for 86 degrees Sunday and 88 Monday. When it’s that hot, sorry, I’m not going to gymnastics or the bouncy house, I need water!

3. Open when you can

– If it’s 80 degress or higher, open the doors. Use less staff. Call in emergency reinforcements. There are many ways to do things in life, you just have to find them.

4. Offer half-price or free admission the rest of the summer, especially Labor Day weekend

– OK, this one sounds radical, but hear me out. If you build it, they will come. It can be “Fan Appreciation Week.” Right now, we are all angry that the fun, hot, sexy summer is gone, and real life, school and cold are around the corner. So cheer people up, put smiles on faces, with love and joy as the motivator. A big THANK YOU to the loyal taxpayer.

5. There seems to be enough staff, use them

– Tons of your employees are still in high school. High school doesn’t start until after Labor Day. Mom and dad can’t pay for Fortnite forever. Instill hard work ethics in our willing and able community of young men and women. Maybe post a “Help Wanted” ad on your Facebook page. Lean on anyone and everyone that wants to help. People need money, they want to work and some may actually need the job.

 

I love the new pool so much, I would probably volunteer to help. I’m not kidding.

If that’s what it’s going to take for the Burlington Community Aquatic Center to stay open through the entire summer, like a lot of us assumed (I know, assuming isn’t a good practice), then sign me up.

I know it’s easier to be quiet and take this loss as a community, but I, Mike Ramczyk, think it’s not OK and am stepping up to be the first person to fix it.

 

Comments

comments