Sure, go get wet.
After weeks of questions, inquiries and just plain pestering, parents across the city soon will be able to answer affirmatively that Lawrence’s Outdoor Aquatic Center is open for business.
“The calls start coming in the first warm day,” said Jimmy Gibbs, the city’s aquatics director. “People get very excited for the first day. We’ll have people in line several hours early to be the first one in the pool.”
The Outdoor Aquatic Center, 727 Ky., will kick off its summer season at 1 p.m. today. The center will be open seven days per week, from 1 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., throughout the summer.
Admission rates are unchanged from last year. Children 4 to 17 years old can enter for $3; people 60 and older also are charged $3; adult admission is $4.
Several discounted passes are available. A 30-day pass is available for $20 per person, and a discount punch card that has $36 worth of admission on it is available for $30.
The pool is expected to attract 800 to 1,500 visitors today, depending on the weather.
For the entire summer, it will serve 80,000 to 125,000 people, Gibbs said.
“For a lot of people, and for me, it means it is the first day of summer,” said Ernie Shaw, the city’s interim director of Parks and Recreation. “Even though we have swimming year-round with the indoor pool, it isn’t summer until the outdoor pool is open.”
Gibbs said the pool isn’t offering any new attractions or programs this season. Instead, what the pool isn’t doing may be the bigger news.
Despite tight budgets at City Hall, the city chose not to increase pool fees this summer. The Parks and Recreation staff also isn’t following through on a previously discussed cost-savings idea of turning down the big gas boiler that heats the pool water during the early part of the season. The city spends about $3,000 to heat the pool — until overnight temperatures consistently reach 70 degrees. Gibbs said his staff will continue to keep the pool water — all 675,000 gallons of it — at about 82 to 83 degrees.
Pool rates for next year, though, are expected to be discussed by city commissioners this summer as part of the 2010 budget. A recent Parks and Recreation survey found users were split on whether they would be willing to pay a higher fee next year, or whether they would rather see the pool cut back on some hours.
“We hope to find a combination that won’t impact people too much,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said he believes the pool probably is as important as ever in people’s summer plans because a tough economy may mean more people are going to stay close to home.
“We’re expecting a very busy year,” Gibbs said. “We’ve got people who may not have as much money to go other places on vacation, but they’re sure staying here. We’re seeing that with all our classes. We’re seeing that with the indoor pool right now.
“We’re just busy as all can be.”