Bay County Board votes to close 50-year-old community pool
BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) – It is the end of an era in Bay City as the County Board of Commissioners vote to close the 50-year-old outdoor pool at the community center.
Leaders are citing costly repairs and safety concerns as a reason for the closure.
The Bay County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to close the outdoor pool at the community center on John F. Kennedy Drive, a decision that was met with disapproval from residents who attended the meeting.
“They’re shutting down the kids’ activities. Is it next the youth program? Because the kids are there for the pool, so it just seems like they’re pushing kids out of Bay County, Bay City,” said Chris Schanbeck, a resident of Bangor Township.
“There’s a lot of children in that area that can take advantage, a lot of people that can take advantage of free days at the pool, somewhere that’s close to home for them,” said Raymond Barb, a resident of Frankenlust Township.
“It’s like a piece of my heart is being taken away when they’re like taking this pool. It’s a big part of my life,” said Henry, a resident of Bangor Township.
In voting to close the 50-year-old pool, commissioners cited staffing issues, low attendance, safety concerns, and budget considerations. A proposal to repair the structure comes with a $2 million price tag. Total replacement would cost up to $6 million.
Some residents felt those issues were not good reasons to shutter the community amenity.
“They mentioned that it was getting kicked down the road since 2009. Because we’re looking for funding and the city just passed an ordinance to help them find funding,” Barb said.
Commissioners say there are options for residents to go swimming either at a local school or the YMCA. Community members say those options are not the same as having a free community pool.
“Instead of having to drive to the state park where you’re going to have to pay a fee, the YMCA, you’re also going to have to pay a fee. And it was just something that was free and available to everyone, and it’s very rare to see that happen in a community,” Barb said.
Back in 2022, the county was unable to open the pool because of lifeguard shortages.
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