SCRANTON — Just in time for the start of summer vacation, pools in the city of Scranton are set to open this Saturday.
But neighbors in one part of the city have been preparing for weeks in hopes that every kid can afford to swim this summer.
The number of city pools in Scranton has shrunk over the past few years. Nay Aug Park pool is one of four that will open this summer. It’s also the only one where you have to pay.
Neighbors in the hill section wanted to make sure the price didn’t stop anyone from swimming there.
The lifeguards’ summer jobs start a few days before summer, getting everything ready for the first day for swimmers at Nay Aug Park pool in Scranton’s hill section.
“Traditionally, the kids from the hill section, that was their swimming pool.”
Ozzie Quinn remembers when each neighborhood had its pool and they were all free, but that’s become a thing of the past. So, the Hill Neighborhood Association started raising money to try and defray the cost of summer fun for Scranton families.
A few fundraisers and donations led to a pool of money the Hill Neighborhood Association said they’ll use to pay kids’ admission to the pool, as long as the kids are enrolled in the Scranton School District and their families are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
“Free pools? I hope not, I really hope not. I don’t think we spend enough on recreation in the city of Scranton,” Quinn said.
It costs $5 to swim at Nay Aug Park pool or swimmers can buy a $50 season pass. That’s what the Hill Neighborhood Association will help pay for, so the kids can have place to swim for free all summer long.
“In my opinion, I think they should. We pay enough in taxes here. They just raised our taxes 50 percent and I think the children should have something they can enjoy for the summertime,” said Joseph Vaccina of Scranton.
It’s not tax money but private donations that will pay toward kids’ admission to Nay Aug Park pool this summer. So, there’s no answer as to how many summers this new program will be able to last.
Hill section folks we spoke to say they understand that nearly everything has a price these days but summer fun shouldn’t.
“There’s a lot of underprivileged families in this city and I believe they should have that to their advantage,” said Steven Lengares of Scranton.
Families interested in the Hill Neighborhood Association free pool program can apply at the offices on Prescott Avenue.
Nay Aug Park pool and three other free city pools are set to open on Saturday at noon.