Scottville resident moved to area partially because of college pool

February 9, 2024

Scottville resident moved to area partially because of college pool

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Dear Editor,

After attending the most recent meeting of the West Shore Community College Board of Trustees, January 15, 2024 of pool presentation, I came home quite discouraged. My husband asked if we needed to start looking for a new home. You see, we purchased our home partially based on the location of a community/public pool. West Shore CommunityCollege had a long history of supporting the community pool and I couldn’t imagine in this health and fitness conscious era, they would close a pool that was supported, used and loved by the community.

Public and community projects seldom are or need to be profitable, like public parks, boat ramps, community colleges, state parks, etc. They are funded by private and  community tax dollars for the community benefit. While researching our move to Ludington, we were impressed by how the community supported free public beaches, Mason County libraries, Sandcastle’s Children’s Museum and Mason County Historical Society. West Shore Community College and its Recreation Center are part of the treasures that brought us to this community.

Board member Richard Wilson asked for suggestions on how to make the pool more profitable and usage increase.  All he has to do is look at the history of the pool for answers.  Nearly every resident that I’ve spoken with about the pool has memories of swimming lessons, Red Cross training, scuba diving lessons, water exercise classes, lap swimming, etc. Also for the last several months at board meetings, members of the community have given several suggestions.  We have asked for the reservation software to be reconfigured to allow more people in each lane, change times to a thirty minute swim, add aqua fitness classes, lifeguard training classes, swim lessons, and raise fees for swimmers. None of this has happened and it appears they are not being considered.

A board member recently stated that if the pool couldn’t be made to the exceptional standards the college is accustomed to, they should close the pool.  An analogy comes to mind, if the toilet is broken in a bathroom that needs remodeling, do you not fix it because you can’t afford the remodel?

President Scott Ward claims that other pools in the area are available.  These past weeks of storms, fog and poor travel conditions are an example of limiting factors to other pools.  Few swimmers would travel to Manistee in storms.  Also the additional travel time to Manistee or Hart is another hurdle for swimmers. Manistee morning swims are already full with locals from Manistee and afternoons swims cut up the middle of the day limiting other activities and volunteerism. It also doesn’t allow swimmers who work full or part time a swim opportunity.  The Baldwin Pool has limited hours because their first obligation is the school. Few of the surrounding school pools have space to accommodate 120 regular pool users.

“Other community colleges’ pools”  cited by Scott Ward as closing, were not rural areas like ours. The Oakland Community College has closed pools, but in Farmington Hills, and I am sure other Oakland areas, have community pools that have opened. Hawk Community Center in Farmington Hills is less than five miles from the college. The Hart pool is over 20 and is a private pool designed for water therapy and aquatic workouts. It is not going to meet the necessary needs of our community. In a rural area, our West Shore Community pool is a treasure to be saved.

In conclusion, the West Shore Community College website states, “We are a community-focused recreation center offering an atmosphere where individuals of all ages and abilities can engage in physical wellness.”  The pool is a community asset that needs to be preserved, programs built to increase usage, and allow accessibility to Mason county and surrounding communities.

Regards,

Beth Mallon

Scottville, Michigan

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