The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation in cooperation with the City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department today kicked off "Beat the Heat" campaign to raise funds to extend the swimming season at public pools. The Foundation is leading off the campaign with a contribution of $1,000.
Due to budget cuts, six neighborhood pools were scheduled to close two weeks early on August 4, and evening hours were cut at seven pools. The recent "Keep ‘Em Wet" Campaign in the Irvingdale neighborhood raised $2,400 to restore evening hours and extend the pool season at Irvingdale Pool. City Council Member Jonathan Cook also contributed $5,000 of his research and constituent services fund to the campaign.
The Foundation hopes to raise at least $10,000 before Friday, August 2 to allow Belmont Pool and Meadow Heights Pool to remain open through August 18. If the goal is reached, only three of the city’s 11 pools would close August 4 – Air Park, Ballard and Kuklin.
"We are making an appeal to the community to help keep the public pools open." said Clancy Woolman, Vice-President of the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation.
Pool attendance is up by more than 12 percent this summer over last year, in spite of reduced operating hours. "It’s been a very dry and hot summer," said Lynn Johnson, Parks and Recreation Director. "We’re certain that families and children will appreciate an opportunity to continue water recreation activities at their neighborhood pool later into August."
"We did not want to cut pool hours and days, but declining City revenues have forced us to make some tough decisions," said Mayor Don Wesely. "I want to thank the Foundation and the community for stepping in to help us increase pool access for Lincoln families."
The hour and season reductions are also proposed as part of the City budget for next year. If the campaign exceeds its $10,000 goal, funds would be used to extend hours and days next summer. Tax deductible donations for the "Beat the Heat" campaign can be sent to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation, Box 201, 2740 "A: Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68502. The Lincoln Journal Star will have daily reports on the progress of the campaign.
The annual budget for operating public pools is about $900,000. Receipts from admission fees, season passes, program registration fees and pool rentals total about 50 percent of the annual budget. The City’s modifications to the pool schedule will save about $100,000 this summer.