Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Public pools

I was browsing articles on Colorado connection to see what our city has been up to lately. The latest breaking news...all but one publicly funded pool in Colorado Springs is going to be closed down due to inability to self sustain. The solution that they have come up with....sell the pools to the private sector and let them be privately run. This of course has raised all kinds of chaos amongst certain private lobbying groups who do not want the pools to privatized due to the expense that will prevent low income families from being able to afford membership fees. This does not directly relate to sprawl, but I think it indicates an important flaw in city planning. The pools were originally built by the city in an attempt to increase community involvement in certain areas of the city. By attempting to cater to the income needs of these areas they have priced themselves well below the price of the market and have effectively run out of public funding to make up for the shortfall. If the pools were so greatly desired by the community to begin with, it stands to reason that some enterprising person would have built and provided a pool in order to earn a profit. Instead, the city decided that the pools were a necessity and placed them, most likely in places where profits could not be realized.

The result of this is that, now, the people in those communities no longer have an amenity which they did not seem to particularly desire to begin with, but have now grown accustomed to. The result--further dependence on the government to provide you with what you can't afford and therefore probably shouldn't have to begin with (similar to the poor incentives that allowed too many low income families to purchase homes). In an interesting twist, the private sector is now being asked to purchase and privatize these pools. I suspect however that if the pools have not turned a profit to this point due to too many subsidized members, that the communities in which they have been placed are not profitable for a market priced pool to attempt to operate within.

If community pools are a hot commodity these days, perhaps the city would have been wiser to let the communities sponsor and build them. Perhaps then they would be poised for profit in areas where the members can afford to pay for the privilege, rather than simply creating another drain on tax dollars. Private pools are a popular addition in many communities where the members pay certain fees in order to have them, use them, and keep them maintained. It seems sensible that if they are paying for their own pools and usage, then they shouldn't have to pay for someone else's a concept that could be applied to all city planning and ventures.

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