11/20/08 — YMCA seeking funds for repairs or Mount Olive pool could close

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YMCA seeking funds for repairs or Mount Olive pool could close

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 20, 2008 1:46 PM


The closed-for-the-season sign on the fence surrounding the Goldsboro YMCA pool in Mount Olive could become permanent if enough money cannot be raised to make $100,000 in repairs to the facility.

A swimming pool that has been part of Mount Olive since the 1960s is in danger of being lost if the community fails to rally behind the efforts of the Goldsboro YMCA.

Meanwhile, the town of Mount Olive appears to have no interest in throwing a financial lifeline to the facility -- the old Waylin Pool -- on the Old Seven Springs Road across from Carver Elementary School.

The pool is in need of about $100,000 in repairs, and YMCA officials are hopeful that a fundraiser driven by the Mount Olive community could raise about half of that amount.

But it might already be too late as the deadline for getting the money in time to complete the repairs before opening the pool in April has passed.

And while the work can still be done, it would likely delay the pool's opening until at least midsummer.

"I am looking for support from the community," said Darren Goroski, senior program director at the YMCA. "Hopefully we could come up with $50,000."

He noted that the town could help by saying the pool is an asset to the community and by identifying businesses and individuals willing to offer assistance.

"Even if people say we can't give you any money, but that they want it, that lets us know there is support in the community and they want the Y to be there," Goroski said. "If there is no real community support, what is the purpose for us having a facility out there and investing $50,000 to $100,000 if the community does not really care?"

He said the YMCA loses money most years and in some years breaks even by operating the pool.

"When this Y was built in 1980, different people in the community got together to figure out what they wanted and over the two years raised a couple million dollars and built this facility," he said. "Every Y across the country takes on the shape of its community, kind of what it needs, and it has to be supported by the community. A lot of people don't realize that the Y does not receive government funding, most do not get subsidized by any sort of tax dollars or government funding. Some receive United Way funding, we don't. Basically, every dollar we get comes from people coming in and supporting us through program and membership fees. Every dollar we make goes back into the facility. If the community can't support the organization we will go under."

The YMCA has operated it as a summer membership pool since 1995 after purchasing it from a group of private citizens who had operated it as a members-only pool since the 1960s.

Minor repairs have been made to the pool and surrounding structures over the years, and just this past year the YMCA spent $10,000 to rebuild the bathhouse.

"Costs of operating and maintaining the pool continue to increase," Goroski said. "Membership revenue is going down. I feel that is more because of the condition of the pool than the economy. It (membership fee) is not that expensive and people really enjoy it. At least that is what we are hoping it is."

Helping to drive the need to upgrade the pool are changes in state and federal regulations requiring equipment to ensure no one can be trapped by a drain at the bottom of the pool.

"With the pool deteriorating, the things we did are not working as well, so one main reason for doing the upgrades is to accommodate those regulations," Goroski said. "But the primary reason though is that the pool is deteriorating. The edge of the pool is popping up so basically the pool is rising up out of the ground. Brick edging around the pool is coming up. We need to come in tear up all the deck around the pool and pour new concrete around the pool. Also, we need to tear up the deep end of pool and install new main drains, new plumbing. It essentially will be a whole new pool. Most of the shape of the pool will remain the same."

A survey about the pool has been posted on the YMCA's Web site at goldsboroymca.org. People may also contact the YMCA at 778-8557

Goroski recently contacted the town concerning the pool and the possibility that it might be closed unless the money is raised.

One idea, Goroski said in an e-mail to Town Manager Charles Brown is to run a capital campaign focused on the Mount Olive community to raise the funds.

"We also would like to find out if you are interested in a partnership, purchase or subsidy of some sort and have the pool be available as part of the town's recreational activities," he wrote. "As an example, the city of Goldsboro owns two outdoor pools and contracts with us to operate them each summer."

That, Goroski said, did not mean he was looking for $50,000 from the town.

It would "be great" if the town did give some money, he said. Alternatively, the pool could be given to or purchased by the town and still operated by the YMCA.

The YMCA has operated Goldsboro city pools for several years.

The city is responsible for equipment upkeep and the YMCA keeps the gate money.

"Other than the town attempting to encourage public response, we really don't have a lot that we can do that is within the scope of what we are allowed to do," Brown said. "A, we don't have $50,000, and B, we don't want it (pool). I cannot seem to develop a lot of interest, particularly in light of the current financial environment. It is too much for us to be involved in a swimming pool business. We, quite frankly, don't want it. I mentioned it to the board members and have got little response."

Money isn't the only sticking point.

Operating the pool would just be too much of a liability for the town, he said.

Goroski said the YMCA has its own liability insurance, but that was no guarantee that liability issues would not fall back on the town.