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Trustees Agree to Sell More Non-Resident Pool Passes to Narrow the Deficit

scarsdalepoolFrom the kiddie pool to the high dive to the snack bar, the Scarsdale Pool has always been a cherished facility in the village. In recent years however, the pool’s membership has dramatically declined, and its aging infrastructure has become increasingly expensive to maintain and repair.

During a recent Work Session, the Board of Trustees debated the best way to increase membership and close the pool’s financial deficit. Working with village staff, the Board drafted a Request for Proposal (RFP) so companies can bid on the project and make necessary improvements to the facility.

As of June 15, 2021, the pool sold 920 family resident passes, 97 family nonresident passes, and 113 individual passes. In total, all passes sold have accrued $755,042 in revenue, which is a distinctly lower number than in previous years. In 2011, the pool sold 1,766 family resident passes and this figure has steadily declined every year since. Given this year’s figure, the village estimates a deficit of $117,958.

To address the deficit, the Board debated issuing an additional 50 nonresident passes to supplement the dip in resident sales. Sales at this point in the summer are often strongly affected by weather; several weeks ago, during the 90-degree heatwave, 384 permits were sold in just six days. While Scarsdale residents may continue to buy passes, the Board was hopeful that the strong demand for nonresident permits will close the deficit gap.

Trustee Whitestone, skeptical about issues of overcrowding, asked Village staff if they could present yearly attendance or percent capacity rates on peak days. He wanted to investigate further how an additional 50 passes would affect these figures. Superintendent Gray said that could find these numbers, but they will likely be inaccurate because typically only one family member will swipe their pass. Trustee Ahuja added that he does not think a little more data will change the debate at this point, and because time is of the essence, they should decide with the figures they have now.

Trustee Arest was also concerned with overcrowding, primarily because even if the pool is not nearing peak capacity, visitors tend to gather in the same areas, which intensifies the perception of a crowded facility. Superintendent Gray commented that the pool does start to feel crowded when it hits 1,300 attendees because they gravitate towards the most popular seating areas.

Mayor Veron added that kids leave for camp at the end of June, which could be an optimal time to open more pass sales. Trustee Whitestone emphasized the July 4th is a key marker, and it is important that the Board reach a consensus soon to capitalize on these holiday sales. Trustee Crandall agreed and said “the time is now” because if the Board waits too long, they cannot justify selling passes at full price.

Trustee Crandall declared that she would be in favor of selling an additional 50 nonresident passes, and Trustee Lewis agreed. He acknowledged that overcrowding is a potential issue, but said that the “numbers speak for themselves,” and that the pool is not nearly at peak capacity with the number of permits sold this year. He noted that the Village must sell 200 resident family passes at $600 each to close the deficit and proposed a “simple and straightforward” plan that “keeps our eyes on the prize”: Lewis suggesting that the Village adopt an aggressive marketing campaign to sell as many residents permits as possible in June. Then, starting in July, the Board could authorize as many nonresident family passes as it would take to bridge the financial gap. Trustee Lewis also added that if Scarsdale finds interested nonresidents, and given the context of this past year, “we should be welcoming to everyone.”

In response to this proposal, Mayor Veron and others agreed that Scarsdale should adopt a robust marketing campaign for the remainder of June. Trustee Brew, in response to Trustee Lewis’ proposal, was worried that selling more passes could have ripple effects in the following years. She asked what the Village would do if they had to revoke nonresident pass sales in the future, and how that change will impact public sentiment towards Scarsdale. Trustee Whitestone added that if people have the perception that the pool is crowded this summer, it could drive resident sales down in subsequent years.

Mayor Veron acknowledged that it is important not to let short-term revenue gain outweigh long-term impacts. She also pushed back on Trustee Lewis’ feelings towards overcrowding by saying that the data doesn’t show what residents see as the value proposition in their pass; is the value in being able to swim every weekday, or is the value in getting a prime spot next to the kiddie pool on a Saturday? While the pool is not close to peak capacity, Mayor Veron was wary that some residents may see less value in their pass if they cannot find space in the popular seating areas during peak hours.

Two residents provided the Board with their perspectives. John Schwarz asked the Village to consider the implications on parking capacity in addition to poolside crowding with new nonresident passes. He also suggested that the pool may be losing revenue because people have an increased desire to join clubs with multiple offerings. He recommended that during the renovations, staff consider making a joint pass with Crossway tennis courts. Finally, Mr. Schwarz suggested that the Board offer nonresidents pass holders the right of first refusal next year to preserve goodwill.

Resident Bob Harrison chastised the board, saying, “you’ve discussed this too much, it’s simple… you’ve wasted a lot of time… don’t worry about next year. Let’s worry about today, let’s close the gap.” He stated that his family has been pool members for 40 years, and they go to the pool every weekend in the summer. Mr. Harrison said that he spoke with pool staff last summer who reported that the facility never had more than 1,100 attendees at once. He went on to say that over the years, the pool has reached 2,600 memberships, and yet there were no overcrowding issues even then. He urged the Board to sell more passes and move on to other matters.

Suggesting a compromise to Trustee Lewis’ proposal, Mayor Veron proposed selling 25 nonresident family permits starting July 1 and another 25 individual passes. The trustees all agreed to the mayor’s suggestion, and she authorized Village staff to sell these passes. The trustees also agreed to revisit the topic at the next meeting, evaluate how quickly the passes sold, and potentially authorize additional sales. Also, while nonresident senior citizens originally could purchase passes with the standard 50% discount, the Board agreed that going forward these passes will be sold at full price.

Local resident Bob Harrison sent in the following letter concerning pool memberships:

Harken ! Scarsdale residents, young and old, our beautiful '" GEM " of our outdoor pool complex needs you to join with your pool membership of choice NOW. The Rec Dept has an excellent choice of various memberships to meet our resident needs.

The pool complex has over seven beautiful acres of grass with 4 pools for all. The grounds are NOT overcrowded !!! Ten years ago the pool had over 2,600 +members. Today the membership is around 1,500. with an operating deficit.

We need 100+ new memberships or old members to rejoin the pool now.

We need Scarsdale residents to support our pool complex with some form of membership. The pool is a beautiful facility to support and preserve for our Scarsdale community.

You can register with the Rec Dept by phone at 722-1160 or online at .

Contact Bob Harrison at 914 646-4054 cell phone or by email at to discuss the outdoor pool and the opportunity for various memberships including seniors .

Bob Harrison, Chairman
Scarsdale Taxpayer Alert

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