The Newton Municipal Pool, operated by the Newton Recreation Commission, just wrapped up the 2016 season — and it was one of the better seasons in the past five years.
“Attendance has risen the past couple of years,” said Brian Bascue, superintendent of the Newton Recreation Commission. “... We have had a very good pool season. We have had good attendance and more rentals this year.”
Attendance at the pool was 16,370 swimmers this summer — up from 14,627 in 2015.
That could lead to one of the best seasons financially as well — though according to Bascue the pool likely lost money again.
“I project it will lose less this year,” Bascue said. “I don't like to project, but I think it will be less than it was. … The weather cooperated very well in June.”
In 2015 the pool lost $49,800. Going back to 2011, the highest losses came in the 2013 season at $54,281. That year very cool temperatures in May and June led to a delay of the season opening as pool operators were waiting for water to warm. The lowest losses recorded in that period came in 2012, when the pool lost $48,811.
“Over the past few years, the money we lose at the pool has been going down and down and down,” Bascue said. “We don't end the fiscal year for the pool until September, but I am projecting that our losses will be less than $49,000.”
The news of high attendance and smaller financial losses comes on the heels of an announcement by the community of Hesston planning to build a new pool just up the road — and in the face of a new indoor facility coming online with the Newton YMCA under construction.
Reaction by social media users to the news of a new pool in Hesston came with urging the community of Newton to build a new facility or to expand the current facility.
“Newton. You are falling way behind all your surrounding communities as far as outdoor pools go. Pretty soon you won't have anyone swimming,” commented Chris Lawler, a teacher and coach in the Remington school district.
Bascue said he is aware of those sentiments, and the recreation commission has discussed what might be done at Newton — but those things will come with a price tag.
“I know we don't have a lot to offer as far as features and things over there, but I think our prices are really reasonable,” Bascue told The Kansan. “... We do not have an aquatic center, we have a basic pool with a slide in it.”
Bascue said those things are not being considered at this time, as the Rec is trying to “stay on top of” baseball and softball facilities.
“It all comes down to dollars. This day and age people want water parks. It dose not have to be extravagant, but more features — more slides and opportunities for the kids but you are talking about a lot of money for those things,” Bascue said.