The Palm Coast City Council today agreed on a plan to keep Frieda Zamba pool at the city’s aquatic center open year-round as an interim measure before the city has the money to rebuild the aquatic center, presumably with a 50-meter pool as opposed to the non-Olympic 25-meter version in place now.
Expanding the hours would cost more, but not that much more: $137,000 at today’s estimates, not including additional $35,000 revenue year-round operations would bring in, thus bringing down the extra cost of going year-round to $102,000. That’s assuming the city kept fees–which are relatively low–at current levels. A modest fee increase, which the council could well agree to, would further reduce the additional costs.
The city is also working with the school district to ensure that swimmers will have access either to the city’s pool or to the district’s pool at the nearby Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club, seven days a week. The district and the city are both in the same boat. Both their facilities are old, in need of a lot of repair, and incapable of staying open seven days a week. The district just opted to cut its hours by more than a quarter. But the district and the city would make sure that one of the two pools will be open on all seven calendar days, “so everyone has a chance to swim seven days a week here in palm Coast,” James Hirst, the city’s outdoor recreation manager, said.
The new schedule would begin October 1, enabling the city to continue its aquatic programs year-round. It is a relatively simple change that may have outsized benefits to a large number of swimmers, who for years have been wading through uncertainties or incomplete hours from both the district and the city.
People addressing the council during the opening public-comment segment almost all focused on the pool issue. But rather than merely repeat a mantra–give us a better pool, keep it open all year–the number of people who spoke opened each in their own way a window into the considerable variety of users and uses of the city’s two pools, both at Frieda Zamba and the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club–older people who see the pools as the lifeline to their longevity, younger people who use them for competitions, a safety organization that depends on them to offer its services. The more they spoke, the more they underscored–without necessarily saying it–the need for facilities better suited to a municipality with a population now around 100,000.
Mayor David Alfin sees the future of the city’s aquatic center as a two-step process. The first step is to return to a year-round pool schedule, “to offer the fullest amenity available to the largest number of people,” with the understanding that it would be only a short-term fix. The second step would be “the dream–and I’m sure would be shared by city council–that the city of Palm Coast have a loud and proud aquatic center that fulfills all of our residents’ needs in a timely fashion.” (See: “Palm Coast’s Belle Terre Park and Frieda Zamba Pool Need ‘Total Rebuild,’ But Council Is Wary of Another Expansion.”)
The council has agreed to add the improvement of its aquatic facility in its long-term goals, or strategic plan.
The 25-yard pool with eight lanes, heated primarily in April and October and November, used to be open before the Great Recession. It was reduced to seasonal schedule as a money-saving measure. On March 3 the recreation department hosted a community meeting to discuss pool issues. What it heard was no surprise: a desire for a year-round facility, and a better pool. Last year the pool drew 352 pass-holders broken down between monthly, quarterly and seasonal passholders, with prices ranging from $25 to $45 for a monthly pass to $120 to $250 for a seasonal pass (individual versus family passes), with daily admissions of between $3 and $4, and twilight admissions, for those who just want a quick swim before nightfall, between $1.50 and $2.
The pool every year opens in early April and closes by mid-November. In spring (April 4 to May 27) it opens only on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours are added when school is out, according to the plan Hirst and Brittany McDermott, a community recreation manager, presented to the council at a workshop this morning.
The year-round plan would have the pool open five days a week, November through March, in tandem with Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club hours.
The costs: Seasonal operations at the city pool this year will cost $457,000, rising to a projected $464,000 next year. To run the pool year-round, the cost would add $137,000 to the budget, for a total cost of $601,000. On the other hand, the city is drawing $65,000 in revenue this year with a seasonal schedule. Should it keep the facility open year-round, McDermott estimates revenue to rise to $100,000, since entry fees, rental revenue and programming could all increase income–as could a higher fee set by the council. That $35,000 in additional revenue would bring the net additional cost down to just over $100,000.
The numbers and the council’s decision–no vote was taken, but it’s expected next week–was welcome news to the people who’d already addressed the council on the subject.
One resident said that closing the pool for months of the year is more fit for a pool in Vermont than in Florida. “People cannot travel to St. Augustine to a 50-meter pool, they cannot travel to Ormond’s YMCA 25 miles away to swim,” he said. It’s time for the city to get rid of antiquated pools. Not deep enough for competitive swimming. falling apart.”
An almost 80-year-old member of the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club for 13 years, spoke of the school district’s recent decision to abbreviate the hours at the club. “That’s very sad for us because like people like myself, I go every day and that’s my livelihood, to stay alive and in good health,” he said, asking the city to reconsider its aquatic center’s hours and future. He was followed by an 83-year-old man who attributed his good health to swimming. Another–slightly younger–resident proposed taking over the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club before asking the council to consider building a 50-meter pool.
Brielle Goldberg, executive director of WaterSafe Inc., a local non-profit focused on drowning prevention, holds its annual safety event at Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club (it’s coming up on May 21), and teaches swim lessons at the club, providing no-cost lessons to 225 children last year there. The organization has had anxiety about its ability to use the club in the future. “Swim lessons can prevent drowning up to 80 percent and it’s important that children have a place in our town where they can learn year round,” Goldberg said. “So having somewhere where children can go and learn how to swim not just in the summer months is extremely important, but also having the education to go year-round so children know they have a place to go.”
A filmmaker who works with the Palm Coast-based Synchro Belles, the synchronized swimming team, spoke of the team’s struggle dealing with pool availability and pool depth, both of which are limited at its usual home at the Swim and Racquet Club. “This is one of the teams that really needs a better schedule, better pool,” she said. And a deaf person formerly employed at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind as a psychologist–she retired nine years ago–spoke of swimming every other day (“it’s like my best friend”) to counteract two heart conditions. She swims at Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club because Frieda Zamba is too busy.
“At this point before we come up with anything new,” Council member Eddie Branquinho said, “the least we could do for these people over here that came, it’s to go from the seasonal to year-round. I think that’s the least we could do, because they deserve more. Can we do more right now? I don’t know.” He was also hoping for cooperation with the school district. City Manager Denise Bevan said she regularly meets with Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt. Cooperating on pool operations has been one of the topics of discussion, she said.
“Our immediate options are limited in how we can provide payment for an aquatic center,” Council member Nick Klufas said. “This is something that is within the realm of possibilities for us to provide some type of immediate, positive impact to our swimming community.”
View the discussion on the future of the city’s Aquatic Center:
The Parks and Recreation Department’s Presentation:
Click to access palm-coast-swim-aquatic-facility.pdf
I do believe these discussions are great for the people who use the “pool” at Belle Terre Swim and Raquet Club and Frieda Zamba. As you come into the parking lot at Belle Terre there is a fairly good size building on the right. It’s called the “GYM”. No mention is ever made about those of us who use the gym to stay fit, just as others use the pool to stay fit. The gym is important for older people who want to keep muscle tone or keep the body moving on tread mills, stationary bikes, weight bearing exercises on the machines available, lifting weights, etc. Hey folks swimming is not the only means of staying fit. I have seen many young folks in the gym as well, high school students, college students not everyone in there is a senior citizen. So, I ask the question, Where do those of us who use the gym fit into the equation of the future of Belle Terre or an Aquatic Center? A lot of us have been going to the gym at Belle Terre for more than 10 years, it is something we are comfortable with and for some of us it is covered by our medical insurance. The medical profession thinks going to the gym is beneficial. I know there are other gyms in the Palm Coast area, however, Belle Terre offers what we need, we have something in common with others who are there, and we can leave the gym after a good exercise regime and take a refreshing swim. Now we can talk about the swimming pool!
Whoa there MM, let’s just give these folks one problem at a time, it’s a big job let and we don’t want to tax them too much. ;-)
I am more interested in Belle Terre Swim Club .
Much nicer and has more to offer !!!
Might be better to start with fixing the pools heater. Many of us paid our annual membership in April thinking the pool would be heated. Heater broke, mayor and council got a raise, but no money to fix pool heater!
Celia M Pugliese says
Thank you Mayor and Council for the Frieda Zamba pool open year around…what about the Belle Terre one? Should also be contributed by school, county and city to be same open all year and heated when needed as county residents use it as well. This is hot Florida in summer and residents need this aquatic amenities. Also watch close at the maintenance and management of those two pools (if allowed tomthe scjhool one) as we need to get the services we pay for.
Marion Manley says
In order for Palm Coast to remain an outstanding place to live , people have to learn that the amenities must be taken care of . Palm Harbor Golf Course & the tennis center are also great assets . The parks & walking trails are also beautiful beautiful additions . I realize this costs the citizens tax money but the return is well worth it . Look around and enjoy your lovely surroundings !
“A modest fee increase, which the council could well agree to, would further reduce the additional costs.”
Yeah, I don’t know about that… the pool is gonna double in size. Perhaps, they’ll suggest an initial fee raise of say 500%. And after much public outrage then present a counter increase of just 135%. Then after more public outcry, Finelli will come up with a well researched figure that they (the council) can all agree to, that we (the people) will (just have to) accept.
And that is… “The pool is double the size, so should the fee.”
FE INCREASE!!!! They already increased the monthly fee from $20 to $35 and then cut the hours and no gym on Sundays!!!!
I know it’s terrible. But what do think ALFinelli will propose if they “consolidate the properties” into a brand new facility? There will certainly be a new fee schedule.
Thank you Palm Coast City Council for listening to the active community residents who use the PC Aquatic center regularly. Year round pool access is crucial to our health and wellness.
Why dump all that money into a splash pad when it would have been better spent on an aquatic center for the community, which could have included something for even the youngest citizens to enjoy. Let’s also use those self imposed ginormous raises the city council awarded themselves, they aren’t working for this community but serving their own interests. What the heck, it’s just money! smh
I hope the whole complex can stay open, but I also am one of the senior’s that only uses the gym. I have been going there for around 8 years and it has been a life saver for me. Because we all know each other we also encourage each other to stay healthy. Because I don’t have “Silver Sneakers”, they have increased what I pay out of pocket from $20 to $35 per month!!! Now they have closed the place on Sundays and reduced the hours the rest of the week!!! Two of the tread mills have been out of order for nearly a year (leaving only 6 working!). They won’t let people use the tennis courts (which are useable but not in the greatest shape). They don’t advertise so the new people moving to Palm Coast have no idea this place exists!! There is 11 acres there that could be used for so many wonderful things, but they aren’t willing to do anything and have on purpose let it go into disrepair. The people who use the pool don’t give a damn about the gym people which is sad. We should all work together to save this fabulous place!!
Judy – this story is about the Palm Coast Aquatic Center (Frieda Zamba Pool) and not the Belle Terre Pool and Gym. They are different facilities owned/operated by different entities.
To be honest Judy I’ve lived here almost 20 years(!!!) now and this is the first time I’ve heard of the Zamba pool complex.
I guess what most of you folks are saying is that you would rather maintain what you have there already then to expand the place… and with the funding (fee structure) as is. And moreover, that you folks feel it’s a maintenance management issue… a poor allocation of existing funds. As a resident of PC who doesn’t use the amenity, I’d still be fine with supporting it (as I probably already do in some part through my tax dollars), since it does appear to be a benefit to the community at large, whether they (or I) use it or not. That is, I’d be fine supporting the place at current city funding levels with no additional shift in costs to the vast number of tax payers who currently (and may never) use the place.
Is this a hold-over from the ITT days? One could make the point that it appears to be a quasi private entity, almost a “club,” that shouldn’t be subsidized with public funds at all actually… I think the fee IS the problem really. If you folks are paying a fee to get in and supporting it with tax dollars as well, fine. But what about the vast majority of us who pay to support it through tax dollars but don’t use it… or worse, don’t use it but would like to but can’t afford the fee? Why I mention ITT is that it sounds like an amenity that might have existed in a closed community, much like in a private resort, where it would be “part of the package” that you buy into. Does this work in the situation we have now?
Perhaps, one or two days out of the month the amenities should be open to all PC residents without a fee of any kind?
The fact that you’ve lived here for 20 years and were unaware of “Freida Zamba” pool or of the BTSRC shows how little they advertise either place (no wonder there aren’t more members!). Anyone can use the facility(ies) for a $4 daily fee. The only other pool available to residents is an indoor one by the Winn Dixie on Rt 100 (part of a gym) and that is closing down. Where would you have seniors go to stay fit or young people go to learn to swim. Money should be spent to keep both places opened including the gym/tennis courts, sauna, racket ball courts or any other amenities that go with it. Facilities like these are what makes Palm Coast a cut above the rest. Instead of wasting $5million on a splash pad that doesn’t work, sue that company and spend the monies on something in our community that has worked for years!!
I’m sorta in agreement with you as to keeping what you folks have already. But think about it, I’ve been here all this time and wasn’t aware of these places, and yet during that time they were allowed to fall into disrepair. Why? Was it by design? As you mention they had funds for the splash pad (and many other apparent “follies”), but allowed Zamba to continue to decline?
If this be madness, there is much method in it, wouldn’t you agree.
Well, after hearing things like this over and over again, can anyone eventually NOT come to the conclusion that it’s far from inept decision making… nor madness. Now it seems the powers that be are suggesting a super duper new aquatic center, with regulation Olympic size pools and whatever. Well, the question is where? In Town Center? Wherever it is, it most certainly will not serve the entire PC community… much like one lone firehouse can. Will we need another? Just how BIG is this place going to get?!? And most interesting of all, who will profit from all the real estate transactions involved?
If they can’t salvage Zamba, could they at least build on the existing property… let me guess, probably not.
I think we also need to rethink our local governmental structure… looks to me like we are still struggling with some kind of closed community “resort” model from what was left behind by ITT… and it doesn’t seem to be scaling well to the new reality IMO. But obviously this restructuring cannot be done with our present elected officials… they all need to be voted out IMO. But I digress.
I grew up in Pam Coast (graduated FPC 2006), and I swum at Frieda Zamba my whole life, including a stint on the Synchro Belles. I’m genuinely astounded you’d never heard of Frieda Zamba. Even though I reside out of state now, when I return to PC I always go for a swim at FZ, it’s my old home.
It never did make sense to me that FZ and BTSC were so close to each other comparatively. I mean, I could walk from one to the other in under a half hour! In the modern day, you’d expect to have one more north and one more south (maybe one down by SW100 / Town Center, and one up where they are now by BTMS/Wadsworth schools or one by Holland Park area). To make them more accessible to more people.
Sorry folks, just got “caught up” with the “Zamba saga” (read the other article here on flaglerlive).
Well, that picture of the tennis court(?) with the huge crack in it looks bad, really bad… but can it be resurfaced? Can it be resurfaced and converted to pickle-ball? Or even better, resurfaced and made “duel use.” I don’t know… lots of possibilities but little action. Lots of solutions, but yet it’s allowed to fail and fall into disrepair over the years. More real estate for our city to sell off I suppose.
They’re about to pulloff ultimate “ALFinelli” job IMHO.