I know that my community values aquatics, because they renew, by vote, a millage every three years to help support our aquatics center. That millage "property taxes" is over 50% of our operating budget and supports our facility, a large indoor aquatic center with 6 pools. The millage just passed again a few weeks ago with 79% voting in favor, even in these tough economic times!
With that millage we provide free swim lessons to all Kindergarten through 5th grade kids in five school districts in our area (4,000 kids)! We also have over 300 kids on our competitive teams, and over 250,000 visitors a year for open swim! I think all of that, the millage, the attendance, and the repetitive customers, all show the community support for aquatics in our area.
That's fantastic. How long has your program been receiving that support? And, how big is the area you serve?
We are in Holland, MI, population about 40,000. We also draw people in for occasional open swim visits or special events from anywhere in the West Michigan area. Our facility is one of a kind in the area, with a waterslide, vortex pool, zip line, obstacle course, etc. so we actually draw a small amount of tourism.
The operating millage has been in place since 1995. That's when a pool authority board was formed and the 1968 built facility, consisting of an instructional pool, a dive pool, and locker rooms, was purchased from the school district. In 1996 an $11.25 million bond issue was passed to expand the facility into an 87,000 sq. ft complex with a 50 meter pool, bleacher seating, two leisure pools, a spa, a therapy pool, a fitness room, and locker rooms.
Visit our website www.hollandaquaticcenter.org and check us out! You can read about the funding and formation of the center on the About Us tab under Facility Profile. I have only been here one year and am still in awe of the amazing facility offered to the community! :)
with the economic downturn, does your community still expect the same services that they received in more prosperous times?
I think they expect more from their aquatic facilities these days specially because the downturn of the economy. Also during these days the community has less possibles to go away in holidays, so they stay local and they come by to have fun and workout.
Pete as you know, I ran a aquatic center managed by a local non profit but owned by the city and there we see how much the community supports our non profit with donations during our membership rally and how the local social clubs support the pool and their programs.Also the local city council try always show their support.
The same way they support, I see Jim's point of view about giving their loud and clear opinion about the programs and other situations of the day to day of aquatics.
Ives Pool in Sebastopol..