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Plan to Save Land O’ Lakes Pool Ready for Commission

The Land O’ Lakes Lightning’s plan would save the county more than $100,000 a year in operational costs.

Pasco County Commissioners will get their first look at a plan to during their meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9.

The plan, put together by the Land O’ Lakes Lightning Swim Team and the Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department, eases the county’s financial burden for operating the pool by about $100,000 a year. The county would still have to pay about $41,000 a year, but would make back about $10,000 a year in user fees.

“It’s a true partnership,” said Rick Buckman, director of the parks department.

The plan to save the Land O’ Lakes pool has been in the works for more than three months. When the parks department recommended closing the county’s pools in Land O’ Lakes and Hudson to cover part of its $470,000 budget shortfall, the Lightning immediately stepped forward to save the Land O’ Lakes facility.

The Lightning is a nonprofit team that has about 140 members ranging in age from about 5 up. Its officials wanted to preserve the pool not only for their team, but also the and high school teams and public swimmers.

Under the plan, public swim times would continue in the summer months as they do now. The only real difference is the public swims would only be open seven hours a day instead of nine during the Memorial Day to Labor Day period. The pool would remain open year round for Lightning swimmers and members of the high school teams.

“I think it’s a great deal for the county,” said Brett Ewald, president of the Lightning. “For $30,000 net they can keep everything they had except just a loss of two hours a day.”

Under the proposal, the county will pay for and manage the public swim. The Lightning will be responsible for operational and maintenance costs of the pool, including water quality control and capital repairs up to $2,500. The county would have to kick in for most costly repairs.

The Lightning would also pay for two certified pool operators and would be responsible for all swimming lessons.

A proposal to save the Veterans Memorial Park pool in Hudson will also be presented Tuesday. That plan does not include a private partnership like the Land O’ Lakes offer does. Keeping that pool open will cost the county about $146,000 a year, but plans are in the works to increase revenue from the pool.

Buckman intends to present both proposals Tuesday and wants to get direction from the commission.

“I’m not at this meeting recommending a final decision,” he said. “(I’m) looking for discussion.”

The commission meets at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse, 37918 Meridian Ave., in Dade City.

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