After close to a year of consideration, Timberville Town Council voted unanimously to close the Plains District Memorial Park Pool permanently on Thursday.
In April 2019, town council voted to close the pool for the 2019 season due to a lack of staffing and declining interest.
Town Manager Austin Garber said in April that the main reason for the decision was a lack of response the town received for lifeguard positions.
“We received one application this year,” Garber said. “Last year, we only had eight lifeguards.”
Garber said the pool usually staffs 13 to 16 lifeguards who rotate through various positions, such as working the concession stand.
“The interest in life guarding has been declining over the last several years. With so few responses to ads this year, it isn’t physically possible to staff the pool,” Garber said in an email.
Another factor was the decline in revenue and attendance over the last few years.
“The pool operates on over $50,000 for a three-month period,” Garber said. “In addition to the annual operating costs, the town would have to invest an additional $19,000 in equipment and repairs to get the pool up and running this season.”
Since 2015, the pool has seen a decline in revenue.
“From 2015 to 2016, we saw a 5.5% drop in revenue,” Garber said. “From 2016 to 2017, we saw a 14% drop and from 2017 to 2018, we saw a 26% drop.”
By temporarily closing the pool, it allowed council members to have a year to contemplate on the future of the pool for the next season, according to Mayor Don Delaughter.
Council members looked at the cost of revitalizing the pool for 2020, but Delaughter said the costs would have been in the neighborhood of $70,000-75,000. If the pool were to open, the town would be losing $36,000 a year.
“There was an understanding that we could use that money and put it in the new park,” Delaughter said.
With the passing of the fiscal 2020 budget, the town set aside $140,000 for the first phase of park improvements. To improve the parks, council formed a park planning advisory group to brainstorm new ideas for the parks system.
Preliminary plans for Timberville’s parks were revealed in November, providing a blueprint to possible changes coming to American Legion Park and Plains District Memorial Park.
The plans were designed by LPDA, a Charlottesville-based landscape architecture and planning company hired by the council in July.
LPDA identified 18 key areas in American Legion Park and 26 in Plains District Memorial Park, which can be found on the town’s website.
The advisory group met shortly after and sent back their markups to LPDA two weeks ago, according to Delaughter.
The future of the pool complex is still in question as the option of installing a bubble over the pool for extended seasonal use has been proposed, along with an option to demolish the pool and install a larger skate park or other amenity, according to the plan.
Town Council will still need to give a final sign-off before moving forward with larger projects.