Mayor Steve Allender has suggested in his budget cut proposal that all city pools will be closed this summer. The first reading of this ordinance will be June 1.
He stated in the Rapid City Journal article that it wasn’t a matter of the Corona virus but rather a budget issue and the pools are a net loss for the city with admissions and concessions not covering the costs.
The new civic center arena may be the first thing to consider putting a pause on. Given the severity of the budget shortfalls caused by an unprecedented pandemic I’m sure the city was smart enough to put a clause in that contract in case of an emergency or disaster. If not that how about other city funded/subsidized places like the Journey Museum? Should the number of people visiting that be compared to the pool usage?
Why have the pools been allowed to run at a significant deficit for years? Is this out of the goodness of everyone’s heart or just mismanagement? Could another alternative be considered? Could an increase in the admission and concession prices be considered? Was there any input from parents even considered before taking this position? Or is this the Mayors way of saying, “well, we tried not to furlough but the people demanded the pools be open so jobs must be cut” putting the blame on the citizens instead of where it belongs, management?
Many government functions have been exposed and not one city employee has been furloughed or laid off to save money. Yet, many of their job functions don’t exist and some are working at alternative jobs and still collecting their city paycheck!
I do not wish for anyone to lose his or her job but if the city must consider such a drastic step due to, again, the budget, not the virus as stated by the Mayor, maybe it’s time we look at some alternative cost savings that might just prevent the total shut down of the city pools for the entire summer.
Many students have been left to flounder being locked out of their schools through a step that will prove to be a huge setback for many. Parents threw up their hands and accepted the new rule, for the good of the community, while teachers and administrators struggled, yes struggled, to get the students to do their on line work. It is estimated that 25 percent of students didn’t do anything! Those same students, who did not complete any of their on line work, will be passed to the next grade anyway.
Kids have been stuck at home with very little to do for months. Taking away the summer and any activity at the swimming pools, including life saving swimming lessons, is too much.
So will the parents speak up? Will the citizens demand that the pools are opened?
If you want to take a stand here is the time and the place: Monday, June 1, Rapid City Council Meeting, City Hall 300 6th Street at 6:30 p.m.
Now is the time to let both the Mayor and the entire council know that for the sake of our children’s safety, fun and enjoyment this summer the pools must be opened. If the Mayor’s fall back position is the virus that too can be addressed by limiting the number of people in the pools at one time. There are solutions that must be considered before pulling the plug on the pools.
Janette McIntyre is a former political candidate, a Rapid City resident and a contemporary pianist.
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