In an effort to help working parents, the City of Metropolis will extend the hours of the Metropolis City Pool.
Mayor Don Canada made the official announcement during the Metropolis City Council meeting on Monday, April 25. Ward 1 alderwoman Michele Longworth attended the meeting via conference call.
The reasoning behind the extension was discussed during a Parks & Rec Committee meeting held just before the council meeting.
Committee chair and Ward 3 alderman Al Wagner said there are a “plethora of reasons” to extend the Metropolis City Pool’s hours to 12-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-7 p.m. on Sunday.
“The key word here is really opportunity — to give people who work until 5 p.m. the opportunity to spend time with their families, for us to provide that opportunity. You think of single parents who work all day and their kid’s in daycare, what option do they have if they work until 5?” Wagner said.
Canada said that with the extended hours, the city hopes more families with young children will take advantage of the Superman-themed splash pad, which opened for the first time last year.
In the past, the pool closed to the public at 5 p.m., leaving the evening for private and organization parties.
Canada noted that extending the hours may interfere with those parties, but there are a couple of solutions: posting early closings in advance or sharing the pool. Canada noted if swim time is shared with the public, there would be no charge for the shelter reservation for food consumption and the cost would be regular admission.
“The one thing we don’t know is how well it’s going to go over, and we won’t know unless we try it,” Canada said. “Everybody we’ve talked to so far is for it, but until we actually do it, we won’t know if anybody will show up. If it doesn’t work, we can always go back to the way it was.”
Wagner noted the pool isn’t just a summer recreational facility.
“Our investment with the advent of the splash pad is a way for pre-schoolers all the way to senior citizens to get quality exercise. There’s not many facilities that can do that,” Wagner said.
The pool is scheduled to open around Memorial Day weekend.
Corporate counsel Rick Abell alerted the council to impending rate increases for energy usage. The first is by Liberty Utilities due to the demand for natural gas, which will impact Metropolis residents.
“The demand for natural gas is going up rapidly because there’s not enough capacity in the energy markets,” Abell said. “We’re short on capacity after shutting down coal-powered plants and other forms of generation that are getting old and there’s not enough to replace it with. When demand’s high, the price goes up.”
The second is the capacity of electricity, which will impact residential and small commercial customers in Brookport, Joppa and the outlying area.
“It’s going to hurt them,” Abell said, emphasizing the city is “fairly protected” because it’s in a long-term contract for its electrical wholesale rates.
On similar business, Canada addressed complaints of city electric bills.
“I’m asked why we keep raising our rates. (The public) thinks the PPA is raising (the electric rate) or is a tax,” he said.
“We haven’t raised our rates in years. We’re dealing with a higher demand, which is covered in the Purchase Power Adjustment. We’re more than happy to answer questions — just come to city hall and we can compare the usage from year to year. If it’s not any higher than it was last year, there may be another problem. We don’t mind helping people drill down and figure out why it’s that way. We’re willing to help.”
Abell noted the local power cost is running 4% to 5% lower than it was this time last year, due to demand coming back as more schools and businesses have reopened after COVID-19.
“Our power rates are better than they were last year by a substantial amount,” Abell said.
“Consistently, the last six months or more are substantially lower than what they were last year. Normally, what we’ll find is the usage is considerably more than it was during the same period last year — whatever billing period it was, was warmer or colder than this year.”
The council had one item of business. It approved seeking bids for the sale of 1021 E. Seventh St.
The second citywide cleanup week for 2022 sponsored by Bulldog will be held May 16-20.
The council’s next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 9.