PAXTON — The Paxton Park District’s board of commissioners has called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the possibility of expanding this summer’s proposed hours of operation of the public swimming pool at Coady Park.
The meeting was requested by a group of local residents who started a “Save the Paxton Pool” Facebook page last month following the park board’s decision to discontinue offering open swim in the daytime or on weekends.
The group has been meeting weekly since the park board’s 4-1 vote to discuss ways to raise money for the park district, with the hope that if enough funds can be raised, the board will reconsider its decision and keep the pool open the same hours it was last summer.
“Our objective is to lessen the financial hardship from the pool on the park district and to be able to continue the hours from last year,” Save the Paxton Pool group member Bryan Welch said.
In response to declining attendance at the pool and rising costs of operating it, the park board decided in April to limit open swim hours to 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Last summer, open swim was available from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Park Board President Steve Sample supported the change, noting the low turnout the pool has seen during the daytime on weekdays as well as on weekends.
“The numbers are low during the week, but they’re typically even lower during the weekends,” Sample said. “We decided that, in an effort to try and save some money, we would close on the weekends.”
Welch said he and “at least five or six” other representatives of the Save the Paxton Pool group plan to attend Thursday’s meeting at the Paxton Civic Center, 601 S. Fall St., although he noted there could be many more concerned citizens there, too.
Welch said he is “definitely hopeful” that the board will be receptive to the group’s proposal.
Welch said the group will be asking for the park board’s permission to raise funds on the district’s behalf, with the goal being to “improve the pool hours and the financial stability of the pool for future years, not just this year alone.”
Welch said his group plans to hold a number of fundraisers, including carnivals, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, a glow-in-the-dark 5K race and the sale of “Save the Paxton Pool” T-shirts. Welch said he hopes that once the park board hears more about the planned fundraisers, it will agree to keep the pool open this summer for the same hours as it was open last summer.
“I think the pool is very valuable to the community,” said Welch, whose three daughters use the pool every summer. “It’s a staple for the community, especially for those kids who have nothing to do during the day. ... We want them to have somewhere to go.”
The pool is scheduled to be open between May 25 and Aug. 11.