City proposes closing six outdoor pools

Dunworth, Ford Woods to stay open, school sites added; informational meeting set for April 12

DEARBORN – The city intends to continue to operate outdoor pools at Levagood and Ford Woods parks, and add summer swimming opportunities at three indoor pools inside Dearborn public schools, under a proposal developed by city officials last week.

The proposal includes the permanent closure and demolition of the city’s six other aging outdoor pools, built in 1954, 1956 and 1962. Ongoing operating costs and the significant investments required for the outdoor pools make this proposed change necessary for the 2010 summer season, officials said.

An informational meeting about the proposal as well as the city’s overall budget challenges is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the City Council Chambers, 13615 Michigan Ave. The public is invited.

The proposal includes the construction of a larger, modern pool complex for Ford Woods Park, which will accommodate more swimmers and cost about half of the resources of keeping the seven neighborhood pools operating.

The decision regarding closing the smaller, neighborhood pools is expected to save $132,000 a year in operational costs alone.

The city will save $3.8 million by not pursuing investments necessary to keep the seven aging pools in a safe and healthy condition.

The city is facing up to a $20 million shortfall for the budget year that begins July 1. The proposal regarding the outdoor pools is part of the budget review process being undertaken by Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and his administration, together with the City Council.

The goal in all cases is to offer residents viable, lower cost alternatives wherever possible.

Details are still being worked out with the Dearborn Public Schools, but it is expected that summer swimming will be offered at pools inside Stout, Smith and Salina schools. This will maintain neighborhood swimming options for many families.

Use of the school pools is part of a renewed commitment between the city and the school district to share facilities and resources to serve Dearborn residents in the most cost-effective way, officials said.

To accommodate increased visitors at Ford Woods, which now can hold 175 swimmers, the city is pursuing plans to create a larger pool, with the expectation that it could open as early as the summer of 2011.

The pool would have a zero-depth entry for toddlers and people with disabilities, and also would include water features for younger children.

Dunworth Pool at Levagood Park is being assessed, and upgrades are likely there for the summer of 2011, including expected enhancements to the bathhouses. Dunworth is the city’s largest pool, accommodating about 1,024 swimmers.

Families also have access to the indoor aquatic complex in the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, which includes a zero-depth entry leisure pool, water features, a lazy river, large lap pool and two water slides.

The Recreation Department intends to continue to offer summer swim lessons and host swim teams at the two outdoor pools, The Ford Center and the three school pools in the summer.

As plans become more finalized, an informational meeting regarding the outdoor pool proposal will be held.

The city will post the meeting notification on www.cityofdearborn.org, CDTV, Twitter (cityofdearborn account) and through its enewsletter. Sign up at www.cityofdearborn.org.

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