Swim center dive

Eleanor Bailey/The Almanac

A youngster executes a flip off a Mt. Lebanon Swim Center diving board during a summer day in 2019.

Daily admission to Mt. Lebanon Swim Center is increasing slightly for most customers this year.

During their discussion session Tuesday, Mt. Lebanon commissioners reached several decisions with regard to the center’s operation in 2021, including raising the daily cost of attendance by $1 for everyone except children ages 2 and younger, who will continue to be admitted for free.

What are intended as the temporary prices, $9 for regular admission and $8 for students and senior citizens, reflect adjustments to the swim center’s operations as precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

Attendance at the start of the season will be limited to 300 customers during open-swim sessions, which in turn are relegated to a pair of daily three-hour time slots, from 12 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.

Also with regard to scheduling, lap swims are from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day and 8 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with an 18-person limit, or two per lane. Mt. Lebanon Aqua Club is slotted for pool use from 5:15 to 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

The schedule also accounts for cleaning breaks between each of the sessions.

While stressing safety as the swim center’s top priority, limits on attendance look to have a negative financial effect on an operation that already runs on a deficit annually.

“We do not make money off the pool. It costs money to run the pool, and I think that’s something the community and the commissioners have decided, that’s worth it to us,” Commissioner Leeann Foster explained during the discussion session. “That’s something we want to provide to the community.”

The deficit for 2021 has been projected as high as $320,000, but contingency money has been provided in the current year’s budget, and the municipality also could tap into its fund balance to cover costs, according to finance director Andrew McCreery.

Commissioners decided by a narrow consensus not to limit attendance to Mt. Lebanon residents, because of the possible impact on revenue and considerations of inclusivity. In favor a residency requirement were Mindy Ranney, commission president, and Steve Silverman.

“We’re talking about limiting admissions into our pool. So you could have residents who say, ‘Wait a minute. I wanted to go to the pool and I couldn’t because this is limited. Yet you allowed folks who are not from Mt. Lebanon to go into the swimming pool,’” Silverman said of his position on the matter.

For the first time, the Mt. Lebanon Recreation this year will make seasonal pool passes available online.

“This would be a huge convenience for customers,” said David Donnellan, director of recreation. “Normally, this is a busy and hectic process done in the office.”

Visiting the recreation office, though, continues to be an option for purchases.

Reservations for time slots also can be made online, as the pool does not allow walk-up admission. Those who fail to show up during their reserved times will be charged a fee unless they cancel up to one hour beforehand.

“Customers will have the ability to cancel, themselves, online,” Donnellan said. “So it’s a simple process. It’s not like you would have to make a call or send an email.”

When swim season starts, plans call for the center’s slides, diving board and climbing wall to be open.

Customers are to bring their own chairs, arrive and leave wearing bathing suits and leave promptly at the end of the session. The swim center showers will be closed and no pool parties scheduled, “at least initially, with the possible exception of ‘school’s out’ parties, if we have the staff to do that,” according to Donnellan.

Seasonal pass prices have yet to be determined. Donnellan said more information will be available and his department will be ready to start selling passes soon.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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