SANTA CRUZ -- Reopening the big pool at Harvey West Park went swimmingly this summer, but not quite as well as the city had hoped.

Still, the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday approved offering the 10-week program again next summer with the expectation that revenue will increase if swimmers have more advance notice. The facility, closed in 2008 due to budget cuts, opened again this summer just two months after the council approved it.

"Getting the word out is always a challenge," said Carol Scurich, recreation supervisor.

Scurich said the city took in $15,200 in revenue for the program, which fell short of the $23,000 anticipated. Attendance was helped by a 20 percent increase in summer camp registration, which officials chalk up to the pool being open for recreational swim.

More good news, Scurich said, is that expenses came in far less than first projected, which made the shortfall much less.

The anticipated cost of running the program had been $45,000, but $8,000 in community donations reduced it to $37,000. Because certain upgrades for disabled access were not mandated this year and utility costs were lower than expected, the city was able to limit spending to $23,700, Scurich said.

That left just a $8,500 shortfall, which Scurich said can be absorbed within the larger recreation budget because it's an important community investment.

"We want to concentrate on rec swim because it's so great for kids in our community," she said.


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Although the council wants the program pay for itself, Mayor Don Lane said, "The fact that it was reasonably successful this year on such short notice suggests to me, and I think suggests to others, that it can be even more successful next year. With even more success, the cost really gets to be negligible."

Jim Booth Swim School, who ran the program and was awarded the contract for 2013, said he hopes to offer community swim meets and other features to draw more users. Booth also operates a smaller instructional pool in the facility, which will provide a constant stream of skilled swimmers who will want to use the big pool.

"People would love to see it open year round," he said. "That is my personal goal."

In 2011, Booth and former council candidates Steve Pleich and Kevin Moon worked to raise community donations to reopen the pool, but city staff didn't feel the program was ready to go. However, in April, after a operational plan was put together, the council approved a pilot project.

The pool was open six days each week from mid-June to late-August, offering adult lap swim, recreational swim for children and water exercise classes. The charge for recreational and lap swimming was $4-$5 and classes were $6-$12.

Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmbrownreports