Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

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depinmad
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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby depinmad » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:04 pm

I guess the bottom line for me is this: the fact that there is a policy on the books that was implemented by those in charge yesterday that allowed the Goodman Pool to be closed to the public for three normally scheduled hours when the temperature and humidity indicated it to be an ideal pool day, and the fact that during that same time period, Wingra Beach was closed, is an outrage. And not an isolated incident. And I intend to make it my personal cause to change that policy, officially, and for there to be consequences for those that made that terrible decision.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby Crockett » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:28 pm

One easy way to punish them is to join a different pool.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby depinmad » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:31 pm

I think the Goodman Pool is a wonderful resource for the residents of Madison. It's one of the nicest things that has been built here since I arrived in 1997.
I want it to improve (better, cheaper concessions, more timely upkeep of equipment, more consistent hours) not see it go under due to poor management and ridiculous policies.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby fisticuffs » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:32 pm

We walked down to the pool in Mt. Horeb with the dog last week. Met two couples and their kids. All drove in from Verona. Do they have a pool in Verona?

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby depinmad » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:42 pm

There is actually ANOTHER Goodman Pool, in Verona. It is gorgeous and very well maintained, although over the years we have had similar obnoxious closing issues, and it's impossible to get in touch with them before you head out. It's also about a hundred dollars more expensive for season passes than the Madison Goodman pool... we almost drove out there as a last resort yesterday but ended up at that sprinkler playground on Middleton.
The Verona Goodman Pool does a much nicer job with concessions... homemade popcorn and all sorts of other modestly healthy treats all for $1.00.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby jjoyce » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:01 pm

Verona actually has a really nice beach on a quarry at Fireman's Park. Clean, well-staffed, etc.

I believe one of the expressly-stated purposes for building the Madison Goodman pool was to provide relief during heat waves. Sunday's balminess didn't really hit until mid- to late-afternoon. Add the idea that people do things like go to church, gather with family and return to the city from trips on Sunday afternoons, and it starts getting more and more ridiculous.

Also this: It's clear that the policy in effect was a nod to the anti-pool minority that is disproportionately concerned about it losing money. It's exactly the thinking that has made ice skating in this city increasingly frustrating.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby Igor » Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:56 pm

To be fair, the Goodman Pool has a couple difficult factors working *against* it breaking even:

- Salaires: The salaries for the guards are 4-6 bucks an hour more than other lifeguarding jobs. While Goodman is undoubtedly the toughest pool job in the area (maybe a wave pool at the Dells would be tougher), that is a pretty hefty premium to pay and still break even. The concession jobs are also paid quite well, and they are no more or less tough than any other food service job.

- Pool Design - They layout of the pool makes it tough to staff at lower levels when usage is low. Given that they have two people on the slide, I don't see how you could possibly go with less than 6 guards, plus a person in the check room, one in concessions, and a manager.

Because of these two issues, they try to make a decision early to either stay open or close. In this case, either the procedure failed, or the people failed to follow it. But the only way to *absolutely* prevent it from happening is to have 15 staff or so sit there all day on days when it is 50 degrees and raining.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby depinmad » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:20 am

my e mail conversations end of day yesterday with parks dept officials:

me:
I would say policy should be changed so that low attendance is not a reason for pool closure, especially early on a Sunday that is hot humid and sunny. And that such a decision can easily be reversed if come to hastily and situation changes. I am telling you that when we got to the pool there were at least 50 people in the pool, and that another thirty were turned away in the brief ten minutes I was there.
It was an outrageous situation. And I hear that when a head count is done it is only about people paying daily admission, not season pass holders.
My inclination is to organize a one day boycott of the pool and to drum up as much publicity as possible regarding the situation. If there is another process that I can be a part of please let me know.
I guess the bottom line for me is this: the fact that there is a policy on the books that was implemented by those in charge yesterday that allowed the Goodman Pool to be closed to the public for three normally scheduled hours when the temperature and humidity indicated it to be an ideal pool day, and the fact that during that same time period, Wingra Beach was closed, is an outrage. And not an isolated incident. And I intend to make it my personal cause to change that policy, officially, and for there to be consequences for those that made that terrible decision.

Kevin Briske:
Thanks for the continued conversation and input. This maybe the first time the pool has been closed under these conditions and I am asking staff to check. I understand and can feel your frustration and am working w/ our staff to learn from this situation at to do better based on the conditions. KB

Me:
It might be the first time this season, but it's definitely not the first time since the pool opened.

I just don't understand why this policy would possibly have been implemented yesterday unless there is some sort of quota that needs to be fulfilled.
If as you say, pool attendance has been way up this year (and I believe that is true) then all the more reason to let a sunny warm weekend day at the pool run it's course without threat of closure.

Kevin:
I concur and like said, we can learn from this situation and do better. The pool has been closed due to low attendance, in association w/ cold temps, but don’t think we have closed for low attendance and warm temps in the past. Cold makes some sense, but to close when hot / humid… we are discussion this situation. KB

me:
I agree with you, I can see the combination of cold temps and low attendance making some sense for pool closure, but I still think that there should be some serious questions raised internally about what happened yesterday, and the policies and attitude that brought about not only the initial decision but the subsequent refusal to reverse that decision.
I think that if clear thinking and common sense and customer service had been the mandates yesterday, we'd all be a lot happier today.
Thanks

Kevin:
I agree. Thanks. KB

Steven Doniger:
Ben –

Thank you for the email – I have spoken with staff and after review it does appear that they should have reconsidered the situation – Numbers at the pool is only one factor the other is weather and last night’s weather was hot so keeping the pool open for evening swim would have made sense



We are working hard to balance expectations and resources and I believe that we will make improvements yet this year to have the pool open during days when the attendance is low, yet the weather is warm.



Thank you for your continued support and please contact me with any concerns or recommendations

Steven

Me:
Thank you Steven, I appreciate your attention to this matter and I'm glad to hear that going forward there will be improvements in implementation of policy.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby Crockett » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:44 am

Igor wrote:To be fair, the Goodman Pool has a couple difficult factors working *against* it breaking even:


Why dont they charge more?

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby admin » Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:10 pm

The city responds to the complaints: http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/art ... icle=30148

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby Igor » Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:35 pm

Crockett wrote:
Igor wrote:To be fair, the Goodman Pool has a couple difficult factors working *against* it breaking even:


Why dont they charge more?


I suspect the fees are already kind of on the high end for daily use, and they also want to keep it affordable for the kids in the neighborhood.

While it is a beautiful facility, I still think a series of smaller L-shaped pools (ala Hill Farms) located at Warner, Olbrich, Franklin, and Elver would have been a better idea. I think you could staff two of them for the cost of 1 Goodman pool.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby thomas paine » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:20 pm

depinmad,

You want common sense to be used when considering if the Goodman Pool should be closed early or not closed at all. It seems, however, that you have failed to step back and view the larger picture, and use some clear thinking, when it comes to most of your arguments.

I am not an employee of Goodman Pool but I am currently a lifeguard for UW Recsports on campus and I was a lifeguard at my hometown high school pool. Therefore, I am not part of the “anti-pool minority” and would love to continue to see a place for residents to swim and enjoy. All that I am asking is that the pool is managed in a way to try to reduce government spending and waste. All I did was use the resources provided on the internet and a little common sense. So instead of making baseless threats about the “consequences for those that made that terrible decision” to close the pool and discussing the organization of boycotts, take a moment to look at the greater picture. Stop thinking only about yourself.

My first quarrel about your argument is your outrage towards the pool only taking a head count of paid admissions for the day. The pool website specifically states under pool rules that the pool would be closed if attendance is less than 50 paid admissions. The reason season passes are not counted is that those patrons have most likely regained the value of the season pass and therefore no normal business should count them as part of the daily revenue. A family season pass is $165 for up to six people and daily admission for a child is $3.00. Simple math applying conservative values of three children using the pass everyday would only take 18.33 visits to the pool to regain the value of the season pass (not using the time value of money since it is such a short time period). And since this is a family pass there is most likely to be an adult using the pass which would lower the amount of needed visits. So a person like Susan Morrison who is referenced in an Isthmus article that “She and her family have a season pass and go to the pool almost every day” or yourself who stated in previous posts that you use the pool at least 20 times a year would be getting an amazing deal, courtesy of government subsidies.

Second, how is it that people are arguing against a policy that is in place to try to limit the amount of government waste? This is not a “hateful policy” as you describe it. Pools are almost always run on the notion that there will be no profit unless you pay a ridiculous price for admission. This is usually the case for country clubs and locations in the Dells that are privately owned and are in the business to make a profit. If the Goodman Pool could reduced its overall loss and possibly make a profit some of the money that goes to the pool could be written out of the budget for the next year reducing the burden on the taxpayers. But instead, you want to eliminate a policy that tries to reduce the overall cost of running the pool and continue with wasteful government spending. The Isthmus criticized the Goodman Pool in an article on August 8, 2007 for needing a $136,000 subsidy to cover the operating deficit from the year before and an estimated $70,000 subsidy for 2007. It then went on to state that, “closing the pool on days when attendance is light has saved some money.” What is so wrong with a policy that saves taxpayer dollars? Your own employer is agreeing with a policy that helps reduce the subsidies needed for the pool.

To tie into that last point, your idea of organizing a one day boycott of the pool with the goal being to repeal the “low attendance” policy would be pointless. All you would be doing is either reinforcing that same policy and closing the pool due to the low attendance, or keeping the pool open because you are angry about this policy and having the lifeguards stare at an empty pool while still being paid. The pool is paid for by the government and having a boycott of the pool would not stop any funding for this pool. Just like any other government run business (i.e. Amtrak, U.S. Postal Service, etc.) the funding will always be provided even if it doesn’t make a profit. If the pool was run like a normal business with advertised hours, like some have suggested, it would be shut down immediately because normal businesses don’t continue to stay in business if they are not making a profit.

Thanks to our government leaders in Madison mandating every city employee be unionized, including the lifeguards and attendants at the pool, the wages for lifeguard is between $12 and $13+ an hour and around $11 an hour for attendants working the concession stand and collecting money. Again, doing the math just for a Sunday when the pool is open for seven hours and conservatively averaging the lifeguard pay at $12.50/hr for 12 lifeguards on duty and two attendants it costs $172/hr. For seven hours on a Sunday the cost for staff is $1,204 (again, way on the conservative side). Knowing that the pool is scheduled to be open for 100 days this would be a total of $120,400 just to pay the staff using these ridiculous numbers and are on the extreme low end. This doesn’t even include the massive cost to maintain proper chlorine and pH levels in the pool while people are swimming in it. And lowering the number of lifeguards on duty would place a greater amount of swimmers at risk due to an increased scanning area.

As for your argument about Wingra Beach (which is really Vilas Beach) being closed on the same day with orange signs everywhere, did you take the time to read one of those signs? The signs say that the beach is closed due to high bacteria levels in the water such as E. coli. This bacterium comes from the large geese population that poops on and around the beaches and then rain water washes the bacteria from the feces into the lake. The beach is closed for your protection and the decision to close the beach in this case comes from the health department which monitors the water quality at all the beaches. You can find information about beach closings on the public health department’s website. If you took the time to read these signs you would know the cause for the beach closure, but instead you rushed into a judgment before taking a step back and take a look at the bigger picture. By the way, the signs are only recommendations; you can still swim there but at your own risk.

depinmad
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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby depinmad » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:07 am

wow. wowee. thanks thom for your thesis.

there's a lot of economic theory and lots of math in them there paragraphs, but let me just say after giving it a quick once over i don't see anywhere that you addressed the facts of the specific day in question: a hot humid sunny sunday afternoon coming on the heels of a somewhat rainy and overcast sunday morning. in other words, a day where it would make perfect sense for the pool attendance to be slow at first and then pick up steam as the day went on.
my main argument at the time and to this day, although maybe not as calmly and coolly stated as you would have preferred, is in my mind plenty big picture and to the point: on a hot sunny weekend day, keep the pool open at four pm as families are streaming into the facility to use it rather than make a call at two in the afternoon based on the fact that there wasn't a huge line of people waiting to get in at noon.
i also don't see anywhere in your math what the break even point in attendance on any given day would be, and how many days this season the pool has reached and exceeded this break even point. my anecdotal guess would be that they have exceeded attendance expectations many many times this year and so keeping the pool open on some warm weather but lower attendance days would not be something that is going to break their bank.
i am assuming you've read this whole thread and if so you can see that all of the govt officials that i contacted basically agreed with me and suggested that they would re examine the way the policy is implemented.
what i haven't mentioned in this thread is that i also received an actual letter in the mail from mayor dave with words to the same effect.
i have heard from friends and neighbors that since this incident, on questionable attendance and weather days, pool staff has been much more thoughtful, walking around the pool and asking patrons what their plans are and how long they intended to be at the pool, and that they have been much more wary about actually closing the pool early.
i was at the goodman pool last night. the weather was great, the water was refreshing, and even the deep end was open.
win win.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby depinmad » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:08 am

oh, and your point about why vilas beach was closed has absolutely nothing to do with my point, which is, if the beach is closed FOR WHATEVER REASON, then that is one more reason not to close the pool.

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Re: Goodman Pool to Madison Families: DROP DEAD

Postby green union terrace chair » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:30 pm

thomas paine wrote:My first quarrel about your argument is your outrage towards the pool only taking a head count of paid admissions for the day. The pool website specifically states under pool rules that the pool would be closed if attendance is less than 50 paid admissions. The reason season passes are not counted is that those patrons have most likely regained the value of the season pass and therefore no normal business should count them as part of the daily revenue. A family season pass is $165 for up to six people and daily admission for a child is $3.00. Simple math applying conservative values of three children using the pass everyday would only take 18.33 visits to the pool to regain the value of the season pass (not using the time value of money since it is such a short time period). And since this is a family pass there is most likely to be an adult using the pass which would lower the amount of needed visits. So a person like Susan Morrison who is referenced in an Isthmus article that “She and her family have a season pass and go to the pool almost every day” or yourself who stated in previous posts that you use the pool at least 20 times a year would be getting an amazing deal, courtesy of government subsidies.


This is just wrong. Someone who has paid for an annual pass is not a second-class citizen behind daily admission payers. If an organization isn't charging enough for annual passes to be compensated for the average use of those users, then they need to reassess the price of the annual pass, not punish those who've bought them.

The trade-off of an annual pass purchase is that the purchaser may benefit by ending up paying less per visit in the long run in exchange for paying a large sum up front (and risking a higher cost per visit if their usage doesn't pan out ... in which case the organization comes out ahead).

Also, don't cite pool rules as support for your argument, since the pool rules are the subject of the debate.


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