March 13, 2014 at 2:10 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Township Council approved Ordinance 2401-14, Establishing the Fees and Rates at the Ginny Duenkel Pool for the 2014 Season. The vote was 4-1 with Councilman Krakoviak voting no.
Councilman Victor Cirilo, who said it might be worth considering a daily pass, was concerned about economics and felt that a daily rate should not be so reasonable that it would affect annual membership totals and revenue. He voted to approve the ordinance after consideration that memberships would be negatively impacted. In addition, he also felt the atmosphere of a membership pool would be negatively affected. Councilman Jerry Guarino, who initially suggested tabling the vote, also voted yes after discussion.
The fee schedule and rates, which have remained the same since 2010, were recently questioned by soome residents who expressed a desire for a 'daily rate' option. The West Orange Alternative Press sat down on March 12 with West Orange Recreation Director Bill Kehoe, and Assistant Director Edwin Johnson to discuss the history of the fee schedule at Ginny Duenkel Pool along with the pros and cons of a daily rate.
"It's perplexing to me why all of a sudden some residents are reluctant to come to the pool as the guests of a member," said Bill Kehoe, Director of Recreation. He continued, "It's a far better option financially than a daily pass would be. Joining as a regular member is an even better deal."
Established by ordinance as a membership-based pool when it opened in 1964, Ginny Duenkel Pool is open approximately 85 days per year and currently offers several different types of memberships with fees that have not been increased since 2010, when they were raised 5%.
Early Bird, Standard, Weekender, and Tailender rates are offered to seniors, individuals over 18, and families. (Seniors are not offered the Weekender package, which was an option created for families that have children in camps during the week). The Weekender package is good from 4:30 pm on Friday through Saturday and Sunday. The fairly-new Tailender package runs from August 1-pool close on Labor Day.
Pool members have the privilege of inviting guests to the pool at a rate of $7 Monday-Friday and 10$ on weekends and holidays. This is tantamount to a daily pass. The pool was established as a membership pool to provide a low cost facility to residents that could be self-sustaining and operate with a high sense of accountability, with members adhering to the rules and regulations and being responsible for their guests.
One of the issues of a daily rate for residents is cost. The daily rate would be higher than that of a guest rate. Monday-Friday fees per person could run anywhere from $9-12 per day and $12-15 per day on weekends and holidays. Daily Pass/limited visit booklet would still require all registration requirements and extra staff and time to handle daily rate residents.
A family of four attending the pool on a daily rate on Saturday could pay anywhere from $48 to $60 for a one day visit, regardless of the length of time spent at the pool. A family of ten would be looking at $120 to $150 per visit*. (The daily rate numbers used are for illustrative purposes only; rates could be higher).
A concern of the Pool Committee, Recreation Department and township is the accountability of residents coming to the pool only a few times a year that do not participate or understand the protocols of the pool.
"Safeguards are in place to protect the members and the pool," said Edwin Johnson. "No member under 13 can be at the pool by themselves, and no guest of any age can be at the pool without the supervision of a member."
Another concern is the potential drop in memberships if daily rates were established. In 2013, the pool's revenues and memberships covered the costs of operation, including maintenance, salaries, and repairs. In what has become a hostile environment when it comes to resident taxes, it is not considered prudent in the current economic climate to pursue a "what if" scenario when the current formula has been extremely successful.
A yearly membership for a family of four at the early bird rate is $270 for the entire season and $300 for a family of 10 for the entire season.
It would be most prudent for families unwilling to pay for a yearly membership to visit the pool with an existing member and pay the guest fees that way.
Kehoe explained, "As far as overall revenue for the pool goes, changing an existing successful formula is risky. The Mayor and the majority of the town council seem to agree with our professional opinion."
For more information on the Ginny Duenkel Pool, go to: http://westorange.org/index.aspx?nid=180.