Council helps Aquatic Center stay afloat

By Dave Fidlin


With rising costs on the horizon, leaders behind the Whitewater Aquatic and Fitness Center are asking the city and school district for additional funding to keep the municipal amenity afloat in 2014.

Steven J. Ryan and Paula Malone, the center’s president and operations director, respectively, came before the Common Council on Jan. 21 and requested an additional $3,000 in funding in 2014. The same request is going before the board of the Whitewater Unified School District as well.

The city and district have each contributed $75,000 to the center, which is entering its 13th year of operation. User fees and fundraising have comprised the rest of the revenue.

At the close of 2013, Ryan and Malone said the center was in the red by about $10,000. While several upgrades are set to create long-term energy efficiencies, the leaders asserted the center has been contending with a number of infrastructure issues.

“We have spent $214,000 in capital replacement items, not limited to pumps, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) components and much more over the past 5 years of operation,” Ryan and Malone wrote in a letter. “(The 2013 shortfall) coincides with the loss of two of our five major pool pumps, and each pump runs around $6,000 to replace.”

“Unfortunately, we experienced more maintenance and replacement issues this past year as the facility ages,” Ryan and Malone added in their letter. “More of these issues are expected in the future. We remain committed to a healthy, safe environment to continue to engage the community in fun-filled wellness.”

As he came before the council last week, Ryan said it was the first time he and other leaders behind the center asked for a rise in contributions from the city’s two local governing agencies.

“Part of the reason for this is pride,” Ryan said of the request to increase funding. “We feel that we’ve put this request off a long time.”

For its part, the council voted unanimously in favor of increasing funding toward a service they saw as valuable to the Whitewater area.

Council member Lynn Binnie said he would have liked the issue discussed during budget time, but added that he was amenable to increasing funding even after the 2014 municipal budget had been adopted.

“I do appreciate the work you’re doing,” Binnie said to Ryan and Malone.

Council member Ken Kidd echoed similar sentiments, and added, “ I think the money you’re asking for isn’t a lot.”

The center has historically run on a tight margin, and questions about funding operations have arisen in the past. But Ryan expressed renewed optimism after the council lent its support.

“We’ve made it this far, and we intend to keep the doors open,” Ryan said.

The city will be dipping into reserve dollars in the fund balance to cover the additional $3,000 being dolled out to the center this coming year.

“Adequate funding in contingencies is available to accommodate the increased contribution,” City Manager Cameron Clapper said.

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