Sherry Wingfield: Wasted resources 

Published: 02-06-2023 12:52 PM

For many years, I have been involved with swimming and around pools. When the JFK Middle School pool was being built, I was thrilled that our city would have this invaluable resource for our community. For many years before the pandemic, the community could use the pool for approximately 38 hours weekly. Youth and seniors had special pricing for memberships and walk-in fees and seniors were also offered a free senior swim weekly on Sundays. Now, the pool is open for approximately 29 hours weekly. While I can understand that there are some reasons for changes including new, later school hours, utility bill increases, and even availability of lifeguards and staff, I am having a hard time understanding why pool “membership” fees would need to be four times what they were before the pandemic and that there is no designation for seniors or youth (so fees for those two groups have actually more than quadrupled). What I paid for an annual adult resident membership pre-pandemic is now being charged for a “pool pass,” which is good for three months and there are fewer hours that the pool is open.

The city has this resource, which was paid for initially by taxpayers and many cannot access it because of the new fee structure. While I’m on the subject of resources, I’d also like to point out that the pool is also equipped with an electronic timing system for the high school teams to use at their meets, which went unused this past season. When using the electronic timing system, swimmers’ times and places are displayed on a board for all to see; it makes for a more energetic and exciting meet for all. It seems a shame and a waste (for something paid for by city taxpayers) to not use it and it sends a message to our youth that they are not worth the time and effort to learn to use the system and set it up for meets. Why bother acquiring resources if access to them is not provided to the community? Northampton can and should do better.

Sherry Wingfield

Florence

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