Aquatic Center could cut hours

The Marshalltown Family Aquatic Center may push back opening time this summer.

Terry Gray, Parks and Recreation director, gave a recommendation to city council members Monday, to change the opening daily swim time to 12:30 p.m. instead of noon, due to the low attendance last summer and a decrease in revenue.

Last summer, without swimming lessons, the aquatic center’s revenue was at $114,162 and in 2012 it was at $145,530.

“It wasn’t a good year,” Gray said. “Weather dictates what happens in the aquatic center. There isn’t any way to go around it. June was a horrible month for us. We were closed as many days as we were opened in June and that isn’t a good start to any aquatic center season.”

For the pool to open the temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees. Gray said that extra 30 minutes would give them more time to determine whether it should be open.

“We would be watching the clock to make the determination if we were going to open,” Gray said. “The thermometer is at 66 and then it’s at 67, then it’s at 68 and we budged a few times last year just to open.”

One of the bright spots for the aquatic center, Gray said is the water walking program.

“It was a very well attended program,” Gray said. “The people that participated in it love it and are very passionate about it and it is a good revenue source for us at the aquatic center.”

Last July, the aquatic center averaged 68 walkers during the 11 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. walking times. Gray said the regular attendance of the group is another factor that led to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee’s recommendation.

“We try to juggle everything that everyone wants to do at the aquatic center from swimming lessons to lap swims to water walking, to general public time,” Gray said. “It’s for that reason to help accommodate this one group of people that has grown quite large, that we recommend to change our hours opening daily to 12:30 instead of noon.”

When the aquatic center opened in 2003 the hours were noon to 8 p.m. About five years ago, the center closed at 7:30 p.m. Gray said she received one comment about the earlier closing time.

“Just looking at our attendance from our noon to 12:30 times, looking at any concessions sales, we don’t see any real detriment to opening a half an hour later,” Gray said. “One thing we always looked at maybe that’s the time parents are shuffling kids at their noon hour or something and opening at 12:30 certainly would accommodate that.”

The rates for the aquatic center have been the same since 2007. Gray did not propose an increase in rates to improve revenue.

“We don’t think that would do much to improve our bottom line of the aquatic center,” Gray said. “I think there’s just a point where people can afford to pay or not to pay.”

Council will vote to approve or deny the request at its next council meeting Jan. 27.

Contact Stephanie Ivankovich at 641-753-6611 or