Schenectady County

Complaints lead Schenectady YMCA to cut pool fee

The Schenectady YMCA has cut in half its rate for residents to use the high school pool in response

The Schenectady YMCA has cut in half its rate for residents to use the high school pool in response to public outcry.

The new rates are $12.50 per month for adults, $20 for a family package and $7.50 for youth age 18 and under.

Originally, the resident fee had been $25 per month. School Superintendent John Yagielski said he had received some calls complaining about the fee.

“We did talk with the Y about those rates and I’m pleased to tell you that they went back to the drawing board and made changes in those rates for our residents,” he said at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

Erin Breslin, director of marketing for the Schenectady YMCA, said the organization made the decision after hearing the response from the community.

“There are many people who are economically challenged right now,” she said Wednesday.

Breslin said the YMCA is trying to balance the need to bring in revenue with the community’s desire to use the facility. “We’re happy to be able to make adjustments in the price, recognizing that people in the Schenectady City School District community do miss this as a resource.”

Training and paying lifeguards is one of the highest expenses, according to Breslin. She could not provide the exact cost.

“We’re trying to cover the expense of staffing and running the pool. We don’t want to be in a situation where it opens and closes,” she said.

The non-resident fees will be $25 per month for adults, $40 for a family package and $15 for youths. YMCA members can swim at no additional cost.

Also, the YMCA offers scholarships to people who aren’t able to pay, Breslin said.

“We’re a charitable organization. We never turn someone away because they’re never able to afford it.”

The pool opened on Sept. 6. Open swim is Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. It is also open Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Breslin said about 12 to 15 people have been using the pool during the morning swim. She did not have figures for the evening swim.

“We would love to see more people use it,” she said.

More users would mean the YMCA could offer adult swimming lessons and water exercise classes, which is something she said people missed when the pool was closed.

People must first purchase a swim pass at the YMCA at 433 State St. They can buy passes for just one month or multiple months at a time, Breslin said.

In July, the Schenectady Board of Education approved an agreement with the YMCA to have the agency run the pool. The facility had been closed to the public for the 2010-2011 school year after residents had rejected the proposed budget twice. The district was forced to adopt a contingency budget, which according to state law requires that school officials charge residents a fee high enough to cover the costs of the pool. The fee would have been too high for non-resident swimmers to use the pool, according to the district.

This year’s budget was approved but the district had not reopened the pool until it found a way to pay for its operations. The agreement said residents who are not members of the Y would be allowed to swim for a “modest” fee, which was not disclosed when the board voted.

Board member Gary Farkas said this illustrated the importance of asking people to clarify what they mean.

“Suggestive words like ‘modest’ as we know now don’t necessarily mean what we think they did,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting.

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