FORT WAYNE – Record heat this summer would seem like the perfect time for pools to cash in, but Fort Wayne parks officials learned sometimes its too hot even to swim.
Attendance at the citys three pools dropped nearly 17 percent this year, despite the warmest July on record in the lower 48 states and the fourth-warmest July in the city.
Perry Ehresman, parks deputy director of leisure services, said when temperatures were consistently topping 90 degrees and even breaking 100, residents were being encouraged to stay home.
That doesnt do a lot of good for outdoor activities, Ehresman said.
The most dramatic attendance drop occurred at Northside Pool this year – from 33,500 in 2011 to 26,000 people this summer.
That is partly because the Northside Pool closed a week earlier than normal this year. Historically, Memorial Pool closed the first week of August, McMillen Pool closed the second week and Northside Pool the third.
A lack of certified staff to operate the pool – caused largely by employees going back to college – forced the city to close McMillen and Northside pools Sunday. Memorial Pool closed the week before.
The hot weather also cost the city pools some money after Mayor Tom Henry opened them up for free for two days and discounted admissions on two other days.
Ehresman said the promotions likely cost the city a combined $10,000 but said it was a good decision by the city that was supported by many residents.
Its lost revenue, but it was certainly something that was needed at the time, he said.
That lost revenue is typical for city pools, which generally do not pay for themselves. Ehresman said the pools are a service to taxpayers and keep people from unsafely swimming in area rivers.
The city lost $221,376 on the three pools in 2011; Ehresman said that figure will be roughly the same for 2012.
Splash pads across the parks system are expected to remain open through September, depending on the weather.