PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle City Council voted earlier this week to shut down the city’s indoor pool, a move that officials said will save the municipality more than $100,000.
City Manager Jim Bennett said Thursday that the decision was a result of the municipality being beset by financial difficulties due to a loss of state revenue sharing funds.
The indoor pool, located on Mechanic St., will be closed for good in February, according to Bennett. He said the Presque Isle Recreation Department will continue offering some of its programs, such as swimming lessons, after February at the indoor pool at Gentile Hall at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
The council’s vote to close the indoor pool comes on the heels of a similar decision in June, when councilors voted to shut down the city’s more than 80-year-old outdoor pool because of safety concerns and funding issues. The outdoor pool was five times larger than a normal indoor pool, and it drew an estimated 300 people to swim there during a warm day. But the 900,000 gallon pool also cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to run each summer, had no filtration system and the main drain, culvert and retaining wall all had safety issues that the city felt would be too expensive to overcome.
“Revenue sharing is still having a big impact on our budget,” Bennett said of the decision to close the indoor pool as well. “Revenue sharing is down $255,017 over last year. We have made a ton of adjustments to our budget over the past year to deal with it as best we could, and this is another change that we feel we have to make.”
Prior to the decision to close the indoor pool, the city cut some positions, instituted several shut down days for its employees and curbed spending in other parts of its budget to cope with losses in revenue sharing.
While the recreation department will still offer some programs using the UMPI pool, Bennett said there will be a change in available services or loss of services for some people. Individuals who normally take advantage of the 6 a.m. swim time at the city-owned indoor pool likely will have to pay more to do that at UMPI, and UMPI does not offer as much general swim time as the city owned pool.
The city also will no longer derive any revenue from renting out the pool for special events, he said.
Meanwhile, fundraising efforts continue for a new community center to replace the aging William V. Haskell Community Center, which was built in 1964 as a place where youths and adults could gather to exercise, hold meetings and conduct other activities. In a referendum last year, local voters approved the project, allowing the city to proceed with plans to build the new center, but only after fundraising efforts bring in a minimum of half of the estimated $6.8 million project cost. Most of the remaining cost would come from taxpayers.
It will have an outdoor pool and splash pad.
For information about the project, visit presqueisle.govoffice2.com and click on Proposed Community Center Project.