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One of Mariemont's most beloved summer traditions could drain village budget

Posted at 5:07 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 19:17:50-04

MARIEMONT, Ohio — The village council will decide Wednesday night whether to open the Mariemont Swimming Pool as usual or keep it closed to save money over the summer.

Mayor Bill Brown doesn’t relish the idea of pulling the plug on one of his community’s most beloved summer traditions, he said the afternoon of the vote. But running it is costly, even in good years. Brown estimated the government spends between $50,000-$70,000 each year to keep the pool open.

“Ordinarily, the village would eat the deficit because the pool is too important to the residents,” he said. “But this year, because of the circumstances with the virus, with the shutting down of the economy, we cannot.”

The pool operates by selling season passes exclusively to Mariemont residents, who can’t have backyard pools due to local ordinance restrictions. Those passes don’t do much to cover the cost of regular maintenance, according to Brown.

Opening while following new state guidelines for pool operators would cost even more. The virus has already taken a $500,000 bite out of Mariemont’s village income, forcing the council to scuttle two road projects. The pool could be another nibble.

“If we weren't able to sell enough memberships, the deficit could really balloon and we simply could not cover that,” Brown said.

According to the state of Ohio, all pool operators who wish to open must set occupancy limits, install barriers and protective shields to keep staff separate from customers, and implement a rigorous schedule of cleaning and disinfecting in common areas. Items that would normally be rented or shared, including goggles and pool equipment, shouldn’t be.

Some Cincinnati-area pools reopened Tuesday with the new measures in place, including Greenhills Swimming Pool. There, swimmers must reserve three-hour slots and bring their own drinking water because all shared drinking fountains are disabled.

Families who went to Greenhills on Tuesday walked away satisfied, but Mariemont resident Nicole Schmidt said she wondered if her daughter would be.

“I am curious as to, when people are in the water, what that will look like,” she said. “Will she be able to interact with other children? Or just members of our family?"

Another resident, Meghan Pease, said she hoped the village would find a way to fundraise in order to ensure the pool would open. If not, however, she’s prepared.

“We'll just make the best of it,” she said. “Run through sprinklers or a lot of neighbors are buying blow-up pools. We're moms. We have to be creative."