Board looks to re-open Swanson Pool on weekends despite thousands owed in unpaid bills

WSBT 22 Photo

Leaders of a St. Joseph County Pool are trying to come up with thousands of dollars to re-open it.

The Swanson Pool has been closed since late July.

Now, those overseeing operations say it'll cost more than $3,000 to open for the rest of the summer.

In total, pool board members say the pool owes more than $30,000 in unpaid bills.

That include costs incurred in taxes, pool chemicals, supplies and even money owed to PayPal.

The pools interim treasurer says the roughly $800 utility bill was paid today because the power would have been disconnected tomorrow if it wasn't.

"I think that it's gone a long way towards conveying to community members that they have their best interest at heart," said Swanson Pool member Cheri Pickard.

Saving Swanson Pool seemed to be the goal for Tuesday's small crowd but financial woes leave many wondering how that's going to happen.

"I think at certain points the communication was a little bit out of the loop but I think, based on all of the information they shared, they're clearly very hard at work," said Swanson Pool member Michelle Pittman.

Board members are even working during vacation time to figure out what's owed and how to pay for it.

The pools interim treasurer says some pool members have requested membership refunds.

"I think we can turn this around," Pickard said. "Just based on the community fundraiser, they were willing to donate more than $5,000 to pay the lifeguard and make that situation right, which I think is the right thing to do."

The pool owes roughly $31,000. That includes that $5,000 still owed to lifeguards.

Board members say employees should get those checks soon.

Many threw out fundraising ideas to help cover the costs.

"I think the people that really want to be here were here," Pittman said. "You hear the saying, '20% of the people do 80% of the work' and I think this is the 20% that we saw tonight."

Even people who are owed money are stepping into help.

Mishawaka-based 'Your Environmental Services' does bacteria tests for the pool and offered to cover Swanson's unpaid bill.

"I know every little bit helps," said Bob Coffee. "In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a huge amount of money for us and it probably wasn't a huge amount of money for them, but we believe in what they provide to the community."

The pool is hoping to open on weekends now through Labor Day.

The board says it would cost more than $3,000 to make sure gas utilities and chemicals are covered during that time.

Lifeguards would also be asked to volunteer.

With no money left in the savings account, many feel fundraising is the only option.

"This pool is very popular and it means a lot to a lot of families so I think they can do it," Pickard said.

There will be a fundraiser through the Hacienda on Portage Avenue in South Bend on Sunday, August 15.

20% of a meal cost will go to Swanson Pool when customers show proof of fundraising.

Board members say they will email members and post on the pools Facebook page if there is a decision to reopen.

When asked tonight what other steps are being taken, board members said "we want to get to the bottom of things."

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