Not the best way to boost pool revenue

By The Mercury

Some residents have made enough of a splash about rules changes at the city pools to leave one wondering whether city officials could use life preservers.

We can’t blame parents of young children for objecting to a new rule requiring them to pay to watch their children at the city’s pools, even if the adults are in street clothes. Nor can we blame residents for wondering who’s writing the rules.

Some city commissioners remember the topic arising during a meeting last November, but they didn’t vote on the change. Yet Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers, who is doubling as acting director of Parks and Recreation, was surprised on the pools’ opening weekend by “the number of parents who were surprised at the rule changes.” And Kelly Cook, aquatics supervisor, recalls commissioners telling him and other Parks and Rec administrators to begin charging everyone — including adults who were at the pools just to supervise.

We’d like to believe the various city officials will sort out the confusion and take steps to see that it doesn’t recur.

As for the rule change that is causing the furor, the objections are understandable.

Not that this and other rules aren’t clear on the city’s website. “All persons entering the pool enclosure, including supervising adults, must pay the appropriate fees.” That’s the first pool rule listed, and it’s in boldface type, is italicized and underlined. So, by the way, is the next rule, which states, “If a person leaves the facility for any reason, they must pay the appropriate fees to re-enter.” An “appropriate” fee is the standard admission charge.

Charging a mom or dad in street clothes the adult fee of $5 to watch her child — who likely costs $4 — swim is a money grab. The adult is no burden, and another pair of eyes ought to be welcome. Perhaps we balk in part because we remember when parents were allowed in to watch their kids for free.

That charging every living soul who enters the pool area might be the industry standard for “water parks” in Kansas City, Lawrence and Topeka is irrelevant. If we’re going to claim we’re a family-friendly community, our policies ought to reflect that.

We recognize that the pools operated in the red last year, but charging parent supervisors is not the solution. Nor is charging a kid twice because he or she leaves the pool — briefly or for a long spell.

If the city insists on charging parents in street clothes for watching their kids swim and charging twice for people who leave and return on the same day, make the fees reasonable;  $1 is about right.

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