The Borough Council is mulling again whether to reapprove swimming at the Franklin Pond.
As a small-business owner for two decades, I feel that some light should be shed on this subject. It has been said that if a business does not make any money in three years, then it needs to be closed down.
In 2017, Mayor Giordano brought back swimming to the Franklin Pond for the first time since it was closed to swimming in the early 1990s. From that time forward, this issue has become a political football, having to be reapproved every year by the council.
This endeavor has come with huge costs over time to the taxpayer. There has been no clear responsible party or comprehensive plan of how these funds were used.
The cost of swimming at the pond for the first year was $34,000; the lion share of these moneys was for startup capital. The following years, the cost for operations has been on average $10,000 annually.
These costs are from water testing, beach maintenance and lifeguard salaries. With minimum wage at near-record highs, the labor costs alone will eat most of the expenditure.
In the beginning, there was very little in the way of income from sale of beach passes to offset any expenditure. In 2021, there was no fee to swim at the pond.
The major problem with swimming at the Franklin Pond is poor management. For example: closing the pond to swimming if a thunderstorm came through in the early morning hours and cleared up by sunrise and no one was at the concession stand to take money for beach passes.
In the 2021 season, the pond was opened for just 14 days because of the lack of lifeguard coverage. It was not open for the 2022 season because the ad for lifeguards was not posted. Even the company that rented kayaks did not come back because of the lack of business.
Now I know that some will say “we did not give it enough time.” Even excluding the COVID-19 year of 2020, this will be the fifth year.
With the ongoing tax reassessment, is spending $10,000 annually on nontangible items an efficient use of our money?
Including this year, the total expenditures for the five years of swimming at the pond will be approaching $84,000. These moneys could have been spent on tangible improvements at the Franklin Pond Recreation Area. For example: improving the walking paths, paving the access road to the softball fields, improving the football field, adding more handicapped parking at the senior center, just to name a few.
So I pose a question to the Franklin citizen and taxpayer, when is enough enough?