RCN: Florence Plans Park, Event Space to Replace Aquatic Center

The Florence Aquatic Center is likely no more and the city announced Tuesday night that there is a replacement plan.

In a news release, the city announced plans to construct a four-acre park and event space near the Florence Government Center on the site of the shuttered Aquatic Center.

City council previously decided that the Aquatic Center would be closed this summer, the second in a row. Last year, like most other public pools, the center was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But other nearby cities are reopening their pool and water offerings this season.

Florence is not.

“The council is committed to being good stewards of the community’s tax dollars, and takes great care to use those funds wisely,” the city announced in a press release.  “Prompted in part by the pandemic’s closure of the Aquatic Center and by questions received about whether it will or should open again, Council looked very closely at the annual costs of maintaining and operating the center, and considered the options. Based on what they found, it was determined that investing the community’s dollars into a new park that would be free to use and open year-round was a much more sustainable and fiscally responsible use of those funds.”

Linda Chapman, the city’s chief financial officer, reported that the average number of people who used the pool daily only represented 2 percent of the city’s population, but the cost to maintain, operate, and staff the facility averaged about $7,500 per day. 

The facility, which opened in 2004, was only open ten weeks a year.

The new park announced Tuesday would be open 365 days a year, and would be free to all. Features are to include a multi-level adventure playground that would let children climb, jump, slide, and maybe zipline. It would include splash pads and spray grounds, a place for picnics and dining, a stage for live performances, a multi-purpose event lawn, and swings for children and adults alike.

There will also be indoor space that will be rentable for meetings, weddings, banquets and large family gatherings.

According to the press release, the concepts for the park go beyond just being a play space for the outdoors, but will also use the space to host festivals, shows, exercise classes, farmer’s markets, family movie nights, and ice skating in the winter.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities this new park offers the whole community, and it will be great fun exploring the possible features that could be added,” said Mayor Diane Whalen. “However, this isn’t a concept we want to develop completely on our own. This would be the community’s park, and we want the community’s input on the elements and experiences they’d like the park to include.”

To this end, the city will be posting an online survey this summer on the city website. 

The city wants to have firm plans for the space by late summer. 

Construction could begin potentially as early as September with a goal of possible completion by the end of 2022.

At the regular council meeting Tuesday night, two residents came to again plead with the city to allow the Aquatic Center to open. 

Jenna Kemper has gathered over 7,000 signatures on a petition to reopen the pool, arguing that the pool provides recreation, swim lessons, and a chance to play, exercise, relax, and build relationships.

Whalen, however, said that while it was sad to close the Aquatic Center, it was not a sustainable business model, costing the city a $3.2 million loss since it opened.

As for Independence Day celebrations, it was determined that fireworks would take place in the city on Saturday, July 3 at 10 p.m., or Sunday, July 4 at 10 p.m. if it rains.

Source: https://www.rcnky.com/articles/2021/06/22/florence-plans-park-event-space-replace-aquatic-center

Northern Kentuckty Tribune: Florence City Council votes to keep Aquatic Center closed; there are other plans for the site

The Florence City Council voted Tuesday night to keep the Florence Aquatic Center closed — and said it had plans to build a four-acre park and event space on the site.

Mayor Diane Whalen said the park has cost the city $3 million and has never broken even.

“We’ll keep the building,” Whalen said. “Renovate the restrooms. Make good use of what we do have here.. . As much as we hate to say demolition, demolition could start this fall just to be open next year.”

She would like to explore more opportunities. Perhaps the facility could become a playground or splash park or a stage for live performances.

The water park is open only ten weeks a year while the new park would be open daily. It would include water features as well as indoor space for meeting and large events.

Florence resident Jenna Kemper came to the meeting with a petition and several thousand signatures. She feels the council is making a mistake. She has asked the council to collaborate with her and others to brainstorm “how we can make this asset useful.”

“In Boone County there is not a single pool for the high school teams to practice or host meets. Each team has to pay either the YMCA or Silverlake to rent space and getting time slots for practices is very challenging.”

Swimming is a life-long skill, she said.

“They built this for a reason,” she said. “They built this because the community wanted this and needed it in the area. It’s just been mismanaged…The city hasn’t run this like a business would run it. They’ve run it like a government would run it. They’ve allocated monies to spend on the pool, but not managed the revenue side of the business.”

Source: https://www.nkytribune.com/2021/06/florence-city-council-votes-to-keep-aquatic-center-closed-there-are-other-plans-for-the-site/

The Enquire: Florence Aquatic Center: City council announces plan to eliminate the pool, build a park

The time to enjoy a dip in the four-acre Florence Aquatic Center is likely at an end as city officials announced plans Tuesday to replace the closed pool with a park.

The aquatic center that features a pool and lazy river was opened in 2003 on the Florence Government Center campus off Ewing Boulevard.

The water world has been closed since the end of the 2019 season with COVID-19 restrictions being to blame for 2020 and 2021 closures.

Construction on a new park on the aquatic center grounds could start as early as this September once decisions are made on what amenities to include, according to the release sent from the mayor’s office on behalf of all council members.

The opening of a new park could happen as early as the end of 2022.

Opposition to the replacement plan has sprung up from community members with a Change.org petition garnering nearly 7,500 signatures in a week’s time.

Ideas floated by the city for potential new park amenities include splash pads and spray grounds, a multipurpose event lawn and an adventure playground with features to climb, jump, and slide, and zip on.

There could also be room for festivals, shows, exercise classes, farmer’s markets, family movie nights, and ice skating in the winter, according to the release.

The aquatic center is typically open for a 10-week season, whereas a new park and community event center will have a chance to be open year-round, officials said in the release.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities this new park offers the whole community and it will be great fun exploring the possible features that could be added,” Mayor Diane Whalen said in the release.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

Whalen announced that the council doesn’t want to make a decision on their own, and community input will be sought.

An online survey will be released this summer on the city’s Facebook page and Twitter account, according to the release.

Council members, prompted partially by the pandemic’s closure of the aquatic center, raised questions about whether it should ever reopen.

Council decided a park that will be free to everyone without admission would be more fiscally responsible.

The cost to operate the center a day is on average about $7,500, said Linda Chapman, Florence’s chief financial officer in the release. The average daily attendance at the aquatic center has represented about 2 percent of Florence’s population. Florence’s population was listed as about 34,000 people in U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2019.

Based on a population of 34,000, the average daily aquatic center attendance would be about 680 people.

Source: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/florence/2021/06/23/so-long-florence-aquatic-center-and-hello-park-citys-plan/5317905001/

WCPO 9: Florence votes not to fund aquatic center, closed since 2019, this year

FLORENCE, Ky. — Florence City Council voted Tuesday night not to spend money to keep the aquatic center maintained this year. The center has been closed since 2019.

Brian Kinross has had four children make their rounds through the center. He said the memories attached to the aquatic center are part of the reason he’s upset the city is looking to move on from the space.

“Instead of spending money on bulldozing the place and turning it into something useless like an amphitheater or a splash ground, that money could be used to upgrade this place so it could be a year-round facility,” he said.

Florence Mayor Diane Whalen said it’s time to move on from an aquatic center, even though it’s less than 20 years old. She said the park has cost the city $3 million and has never turned a profit; that’s why the council’s vote on Tuesday is about going back to the drawing board.

“We’ll keep the building, renovate the restrooms, make good use of what we do have here,” she said. “But then what do we do inside? And as much as we hate to say demolition, demolition could start this fall just to be open next year.”

Whalen said she believes the facility could become a multi-level playground, a splash park, a stage for live performances or a space for picnics and dining.

“Just opportunities,” she said. “That’s what is encouraging to me. It’s sad to lose the pool, but I think sometimes when you look at an idea and say, yes, that worked 20 years ago. What are people looking for now?”

Florence resident Jenna Kemper, like Kinross, is concerned that not having the park means not making crucial family memories. Her children are part of a swim team that used the pool for its home meets.

“There’s nothing else like this in Northern Kentucky,” said Kemper. “If it’s not a city pool anymore, what is it?”

Kemper said she feels sad that community members will drive by the center and not understand its usefulness to the local area.

“They built this for a reason,” she said. “They built this because the community wanted this and needed it in the area. It’s just been mismanaged…The city hasn’t run this like a business would run it. They’ve run it like a government would run it. They’ve allocated monies to spend on the pool, but not managed the revenue side of the business.”

The city plans to send surveys out online in mid-July asking residents what they’d like to see happen to the aquatic center.

Source: https://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/boone-county/florence/florence-votes-to-not-fund-aquatic-center-closed-since-2019-this-year

LOCAL 12: Florence Aquatic Center and pool closed and it might be permanent

FLORENCE, Ky. (WKRC) –The Florence Aquatic Center is the lone remaining city-run swimming pool in Northern Kentucky.

The COVID pandemic forced it to shut down last summer, and the city also closed it this summer.

Mayor Diane Whalen says it probably won’t reopen at all in its current format. The budget under review by the Florence City Council doesn’t include any funds for the facility.

Whalen said that came after deliberations with council over the budget, with several council members asking what it would take to both reopen it next year, close it, or use the area for something else.

“After seeing the amount of lost revenue, the amount of supplemental tax dollars that go into this every year, they decided they wanted to explore their options,” Whalen said of the council. “They want to find a way to make use of that public property for 10 to 12 months instead of 10 weeks.”

Whalen says the aquatic center lost about $3.2 million dollars in operating costs between 2005 and 2019. It lost on average about $300,000 annually the last three years it was open, with operating costs averaging about $7,500 a day.

But resident Jenna Kemper says the pool should be about more than money. She’s been going since 2006 and is a big part of the Hammerhead Swim Team that also used it. (The city paid for the team’s coaches and for the use of the YMCA in Burlington for this season).

Kemper started an online petition that now has more than 6,000 signatures, and she worries about the quality of life if the city continually cuts recreation.

“I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to provide a livability,” Kemper said. “20 years ago, Florence brought in these humongous attractions that provide so much for the whole city.”

Whalen says she takes responsibility for not pushing the fact that there will be something possibly better in the area when the changes are made.

Ideas for the area include a year-round playground with a smaller splash park and a live stage amphitheater for concerts

“We know we want to explore providing recreation there in a different form, in a form that’s open all year long, and a form that’s free to come into,” Whalen said.

Whalen says there will be a survey to get public input on what to do with the aquatic center coming this summer.

Source: https://local12.com/news/local/florence-aquatic-center-and-pool-closed-and-it-might-be-permanent-cincinnati-ohio-kentucky-diane-whalen-hammerhead

Community members are seeking answers regarding the closure of the Florence Aquatic Center

Having lost the 2021 summer season at the Florence Aquatic Center, families and children in the community feel left behind in the dark about their future. “We are all broken hearts, which is literally like breaking our hearts into millions,” said Jenna Kemper, the mother of Florence Hammerhead. Kemper’s three children have been in the pool since childhood. Home to the Hammerhead Shark Swimming Team in Florence. “I knew last year that I didn’t know where to go when I announced that it wouldn’t open in 2021,” Kemper said. The team found a new temporary housing in Burlington YMCA, but it’s a special place for people like lifeguard Davy Livery who came and grew up in this pool. “I worked really hard to keep this pool running, and my sister worked here and really hard to keep this pool running,” Lively.Kemper told the Florence Aquatic Center. We haven’t yet got a solid answer from the city authorities about what will happen. But she says a city council member told her that the city was looking for other cheaper uses for the place. This is useful for the entire city all year round. For many children in northern Kentucky, the pool is a lifesaver, Kentucky says. “One in four children in Boone County is hungry in the summer, so where do you think you would be if you weren’t at school? They’re here,” said Kentucky. Kentucky has launched an online petition to keep the pool open.

Florence, Kentucky —

Having lost the 2021 summer season at the Florence Aquatic Center, families and children in the community feel left behind in the dark about their future.

“We are all broken hearts, which is literally like breaking our hearts into millions,” said Jenna Kemper, the mother of Florence Hammerhead.

Kemper’s three children have been in the pool since childhood. Home to the Hammerhead Shark Swimming Team in Florence.

“I knew last year that I didn’t know where to go when I announced that it wouldn’t open in 2021,” Kemper said.

The team found a new temporary housing in Burlington YMCA, but it’s a special place for people like lifeguard Davy Livery who came and grew up in this pool

“I worked really hard to keep this pool running, and my sister worked here and worked really hard to keep this pool running,” Lively said.

Kemper has yet to get a firm answer from city officials about what will happen to the Florence Aquatic Center, but city council members have told her that the city is looking for other cheaper uses for the location. say. City, all year round.

For many children in northern Kentucky, the pool is a lifesaver, says Kentucky.

“One in four children in Boone County gets hungry in the summer, so where do you think they would be if they weren’t in school? They’re here,” Kemper said.

Kemper Online petition Keep the pool open.

Community members are seeking answers regarding the closure of the Florence Aquatic Center

Source link Community members are seeking answers regarding the closure of the Florence Aquatic Center

WSCH: Florence Aquatic Center Won’t Open In 2021

(Florence, Ky.) – The Florence Aquatic Center will not open in 2021.

For the second year in a year, Florence City Council, with a recommendation from City staff, has decided to keep the Aquatic Center closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release this week, the City of Florence said the decision comes “due to uncertainty with restrictions and the potential of a shortened pool season if cases start to spike.”

The city’s contractual obligations with the company that manages pool services also came into play. Because of staffing and general operations, the City needed to make a decision now.

“We are disappointed, and I am sure many of you are as well. We appreciated your understanding and look forward to a better experience and a restriction free year in 2022,” a statement from the City read.

Source: https://www.eaglecountryonline.com/news/local-news/florence-aquatic-center-wont-open-in-2021/

FOX 19: Florence Aquatic Center closed for 2021 season

FLORENCE, Ky. (FOX19) – The Florence Aquatic Center will not open for the 2021 pool season for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 restrictions, city officials announced Monday.

The city’s contractual obligations with the company that manages pool services, including the staffing of lifeguards and general operations, requires Florence officials to make a decision now.

“Recreational facilities are currently advised to limit their capacity to 60% occupancy,” Florence officials say in a release on the city’s website.

“Due to the uncertainty with restrictions and the potential of a shortened pool season, if cases start to spike, the City made the tough decision not to open this summer. We are disappointed and I am sure many of you are as well. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to a better experience and a restriction-free year in 2022.”

For Sophialyn Wolfe, the Florence Aquatic Center is like a second home during summer.

“During the summertime, we’re here at least four days a week, even mornings,” says Wolfe. “We’re here in the afternoons or evenings for swim meets on Thursdays.”

Wolfe’s summer essentials consist of a swimsuit, swim cap, and goggles.

When she’s not racing between the lanes, she is relaxing by the lazy river or cheering on her Florence Hammerheads teammates.

“And there’s so much this pool has to offer,” Wolfe says. “First off, the swim team. It’s a way I can see friends I don’t see throughout the year. It’s a way I can exercise too.”

Source: https://www.fox19.com/2021/03/23/florence-aquatic-center-closed-season/

WLWT: Florence Aquatic Center not opening for 2021 pool season

FLORENCE, Ky. —

The Florence Aquatic Center is not opening for the 2021 pool season due to uncertainty with restrictions and the potential of a shortened pool season.

Currently, recreational facilities are advised to limit their capacity to 60%.

The decision comes after a Florence City Council meeting and recommendation from the city staff.

Officials said they had to make the decision early because of contractual obligations with the company that manages pool services like staffing and general operations.

“We are disappointed and I am sure many of you are as well. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to a better experience and a restriction free year in 2022,” city official said in a statement.

Source: https://www.wlwt.com/article/florence-aquatic-center-not-opening-for-2021-pool-season/35915379#