YMCA of Kauai pool is worth keeping afloat

The YMCA of Kauai needs your help.

The question is, do you want to give it? Or perhaps, better is asking, should you?

Here’s the situation. The $5 million Olympic swimming pool that opened five years ago operates at a monthly deficit of more than $10,000. Membership fees don’t cover the cost of maintaining the pool. Flat out, it’s expensive to operate. Try $20,000 a month, whether it’s full of folks swimming laps, or sitting still with not a single splash.

The YMCA raises money each year to make up the shortfall, but this year, the situation is dire. Director Tom Tannery says it needs $100,000 by the year’s end. If not, they could be forced to shut down the pool. So, Tannery has issued a plead: Please donate and save the pool.

Now, some could argue that they should have never raised $5 million to build a pool that loses thousands of dollars each month. Overly optimistic projections about memberships failed to become reality. With so many people, young and old, facing economic hardships that affect housing, clothing, health care and food, it’s questionable whether a swimming pool should rank too high in the list of needs we should financially support.

We believe it is.

The pool is heavily used by youth, included those affiliated with Swim Kauai Aquatics. The lessons learned in swimming well — discipline, technique, goals, commitment — translate well to life outside the pool. We want to give our youth such a place as this pool to grow and focus their energy.

Seniors, too, love the pool. It’s a terrific facility to exercise and spend time with others equally committed to fitness.

Those with physical challenges, or overcoming an injury, find the pool the best place to begin rehab.

The ability to swim well, especially when you live on an island, could very well save your life.

And the health benefits of swimming are many, physically, mentally, and some say for that particular pool with its stunning surroundings, spiritually.

So, while we support donations to keep the pool open, we do so with this word of admonishment: The YMCA of Kauai, as Tannery has said, needs to develop a financial plan so the pool is self-sustaining and a public plead doesn’t have to be issued each year. Whether that be done through a membership drive, figuring out a way to reduce costs of operating the pool (solar power would help slash expenses, and YMCA of Kauai is in the beginning stages of creating a solar-powered system to power the facility) or raising rates.

But the closure would be a tremendous blow. And once the pool shuts down, it’s doubtful it would ever reopen. We don’t want that to happen.

Many good people, committed to Kauai, believe in this pool and what it means for this island. They gave and still give days, weeks and month to the project with no thought of financial gain, but rather, what this pool could do for Kauai and its people.

If you can, give them your support.

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