SCRANTON -- The neighborhood swimming pools have always been a point of pride for Mayor Chris Doherty, but for the second year he said there's no money in the budget to operate many of the pools. But Scranton's trying to get more pools open this summer than last.
By Mayor Doherty's estimation, no city in northeastern Pennsylvania has nine pools except for Scranton. It sets the city apart. However, budget problems have left most of the pools bolted since the summer before last.
"I've always been a big parks person, and I'd like to see the pools open up, and I know there will be more pools open up this year than last year," said Doherty.
The mayor said he's working on a solution to the pool problem, applying for grants to pay for operating them.
Last summer, there was not enough room in the budget to pay lifeguards so only one of the six pool complexes opened.
The Novembrino Pool Complex has been closed for two summers. Roger and Anna White pass by it nearly every day and wonder if it will stay as wasted space.
"I worry about the mosquitoes, but my main thing is we have children and they always say kids over here, they need something to do," said Roger White.
"It is so hot in the summertime and not all the kids in Scranton, their families, can afford to pay the $5 or whatever it is to go down to Nay Aug," added Anna White.
It costs $5 to come and swim at Nay Aug's pools, and the mayor said that's the reason this complex was the only one open last year. Now he's trying to convince city council to charge at all the other city pools.
"We're looking at it and remember, all these other pools we're talking about are free. There's no revenue coming in against it. One of the reasons Nay Aug is able to survive is because people pay," said Doherty.
Doherty is not very hopeful that city council would put a price on the neighborhood pools. So he says there are other options to keep some open like restricting hours or days when people can swim.
City leaders have until the end of the school year to figure it out.