Oct 7, 2011 8:56 PM by Kay Rossi (Great Falls)
During city budget discussions over the summer, city officials decided to close the Morony Natatorium during the month of August and a portion of December.
So a sign on the door this week outlining reduced hours on Friday came as a surprise to some members of the community.
The pool used to open at 5:45 a.m. on Fridays; the sign states that the facility will now be closed during the day on Friday, and only open for a few hours in the evening.
Pool user Aaron Weissman said, "It doesn't make any sense. Why close the pool on Fridays? I really hope the city will see reason and open the pool for Fridays."
The newest closure came from the Park & Recreation Department as a cost-cutting measure.
Park & Rec director Marty Basta said, "The City Manager and the City Commission made it abundantly clear to us during the budget that they want the general fund subsidies required to operate the pools kept in check."
And so far, that strategy working; Basta said, "We were actually able to reduce expenses at all the pools by about $60,000."
Basta says he's against raising pool fees, and that his office looked at natatorium user statistics and determined that fewer people were using the Nat on Fridays.
He says his department will be launching a new marketing campaign to help attract more users - and more revenue - to and for the pool.