NAPLES, Fla.- Naples city leaders today cut the ribbon on a new $1.6 million aquatic complex at the River Park Community Center.
The pool, complete with a water slide and other features, is a big upgrade from the 50-year-old pool that was in its place just last year.
City officials approved the funds for the new pool late last year, but some questioned whether the investment was worth it.
Mayor John Sorey believes it was tax dollars well spent. "The best way to upgrade our neighborhoods is to put something in that I call a wow factor for the city and this is a wow factor facility. We could have done it for a lot less money but we were committed to doing it in keeping with the standard with the rest of Naples."
He says he knows they will not make a profit on the pool, but it's needed in the community. He says they hope to make some money through swim lessons and other programs. The ultimate goal he says, is for more kids to learn how to swim.
"The key is we're going to have to have usage to justify keeping it open because pools are money losers and it's something we have to subsidize but I think it's a great asset for the city," he says.
Aquatic Supervisor Bradie Allen says word of the pool upgrades is spreading throughout the community, and that's just what they hope to see.
The pool is open 7 days a week and swimming admission is free. Leaders are considering a small admission fee for non-city residents next year.
There are up to 5 lifeguards staffing the pool at any time. The city is also saving some money by performing maintenance work in-house.