Free admission days to pools


The city of Wausau is now offering more days of free admission to city pools after a resident proposed making them all free admission, all the time.

Phil Salamone asked the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee last month to consider offering the pools for free to children. Salamone says it would help ensure that low-income families can enjoy the summer, and be a bragging point for the city.

Parks staff initially balked at the idea, citing operation costs and saying that the city had to plan its budget the year before. Committee members instead directed staff to research bringing more free days to the city’s three pools.

Under the new plan, the city will host rotating free Sunday swims this summer: July 29 at Kaiser, July 15 and Aug. 5 at Memorial, and July 22 at Schulenburg.

All pools were free Wednesday, July 11 ( because it’s halfway through the season), and will be free on the last Friday of each pool’s season: Aug. 10 for Memorial and Schulenburg, and Aug. 17 for Kaiser.

Specific free dates will allow staff to track attendance and evaluate the program, says Parks Recreation Superintendent Karyn Powers.

Committee member Dennis Smith bristled at the idea, calling it a “solution looking for a problem.”

“I don’t see anyone sitting outside the fence wishing they could get in,” Smith says. “And if they do it’s probably while they’re on their $600 iPhones. It’s easy to be generous with someone else’s money.”

Powers says total admission revenues from all three pools for Sunday, June 10 was about $500, meaning the city will forego roughly that much in revenue on each Sunday free day, for example.

Salamone, in attendance at Monday’s meeting, seemed unimpressed at the compromise. “I think this city has an opportunity,” Salamone told the committee. “My thinking is why not contrast yourself with the federal government and how they’re treating children these days.”