(Posted April 29, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The South Charleston Pool will not open this season, and its long-term fate is up in the air.
The Community Recreation Commission (CRC), the non-profit, all-volunteer group that operates the pool, recently announced their decision not to open the pool. They also announced they are disbanding as an organization.
“The COVID restrictions of limited capacity for social distancing purposes prevents the selling of memberships and unlimited daily admission,” the CRC stated.
The CRC relies on the revenue from memberships to pay bills and cover payroll expenses through June and into July.
“Our unlimited daily admission produces revenue that helps us maintain equipment and daily operations. Without those two unlimited ways of generating income, we cannot possibly have enough revenue to support a season,” the group explained.
The non-profit group handles and pays for everything that goes into the business of running the pool, from daily operations to maintenance of the equipment and grounds. They also owned the property and paid taxes on it until 2015 when ownership of the property was transferred to the village of South Charleston. Since 2015, the village’s only involvement has been payment of property taxes. With the CRC disbanding, the village will take over maintenance of the property on May 17.
“It is our hope that another group or organization will come forward and that the pool can reopen for the 2022 season,” the CRC stated. The group plans to donate any of their leftover funds to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in honor of Linda Smith who was a South Charleston resident, swim lesson instructor and longtime volunteer at the pool.
The village has no plans at this time to take over the pool operations, said Mayor Sam Stucky.
“We have been in conversation with other villages that have pools. They tend to run those pools, especially last year, at a deficit. I just don’t know if the village wants to get into that at this time,” he said.
Stucky welcomes another group to come forward to take over operations to “keep the pool open for future generations.” He said he has fond memories of spending time there as a child and watching his children do the same.
“If a group is serious about taking it over, they would have to start now to be ready for 2022 because there are maintenance issues at the pool that need to be addressed,” he said.
If no one steps forward, the village commission will look into the feasibility of taking on the task, he added.
“As the village, we will look into every opportunity we can. I want to fight for the pool until the ammunition has been spent. We’ll see what happens because I don’t want to lose it,” Stucky said.
A tax levy is one possible solution.
“If the residents want the pool to stay open and don’t have a pool board, other townships and villages have put tax levies on the ballot for the village to be able to fund a pool center,” said Trecia Waring, South Charleston’s village manager. “That’s the only way I see that the village could do it. There are a lot of working parts.”
Stucky said the village is open to ideas, including suggestions for what to do with the property should the pool end up closed permanently.
Stucky thanked the CRC for everything they have done over the years.
“From its inception, the CRC has just been a wonderful and cooperative organization who has spent their years serving the community with the swimming pool. It’s something a lot of communities just don’t get to enjoy. Their hard work and dedication has just made South Charleston a better place to live,” he said.