Initial Vote Set for Mack Pool, Senior Center

Park advisory group to consider proposals on Tuesday
The entrance to Mack Pool, located at the Ann Arbor Open @ Mack school at the corner of Miller and Brooks.

The entrance to Mack Pool, located in the Ann Arbor Open @ Mack school at the corner of Miller and Brooks.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission will consider recommendations that would cut costs and raise revenue for Mack Pool and the Ann Arbor Senior Center, with the goal of keeping both operations open. If approved by PAC, the recommendations would be forwarded to city council.

Last spring, city administrator Roger Fraser proposed closing both the pool and the senior center, as part of a larger effort to address the city’s general fund budget deficit. Both entities cost more to operate than they generate in revenues, and are subsidized by the general fund.

Council subsequently created task forces to look at how more revenues could be raised and expenses cut from those operations. City staff held public meetings in December to present the initial recommendations from the task forces. [See Chronicle coverage: "More Options for Ann Arbor's Mack Pool" and "Task Force Tries to Save Senior Center"]

At its Tuesday meeting – which begins at 4 p.m. and includes time for public commentary – park commissioners will discuss and possibly revise those recommendations, before voting on whether to send them on to city council. The meeting is held at the county administration building, 220 N. Main St. After the jump, we provide a summary of the proposals.

Mack Pool Recommendations

The Mack Pool task force – which includes PAC chair Scott Rosencrans and Ann Arbor city councilmembers Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) – was asked to address a projected $102,413 deficit for FY 2010, beginning July 1. The recommendations identify about $40,000 in new revenues and expense cuts, still leaving a deficit of about $60,000 to come from the city’s general fund. However, city staff and the task force continue to work on other areas that might reduce the deficit further.

The recommendations are:

  • Purchase and install a thermal blanket for energy savings: $10,000
  • Install LED lights on the pool deck: $2,000
  • Decrease the number of computers and applications: $4,000
  • Raise fees 25% for masters swimming and for season passes: $8,375
  • Add a masters Saturday morning class: $2,080
  • Hold an annual fundraiser: $1,000
  • Increase pool rental: $9,500

The city also is working to modify its 1974 agreement with Ann Arbor Public Schools, which governs the use of Mack Pool. The pool is located inside of Ann Arbor Open school, and is off limits to the public for most of the time that school is in session. A new agreement would incorporate cost-sharing with the school district and provide more hours for city programming, which would allow the city to generate more revenue at the pool.

Another major source of revenue could come from allowing a swim school to operate at Mack Pool. The city is in discussions with a potential operator of a swim school, which could bring in another estimated $50,000 annually.

Ann Arbor Senior Center

The projected 2010 deficit for the senior center is $151,687, and the center’s task force has identified roughly $98,000 in net savings to reduce the deficit to about $52,000. Task force members include PAC commissioner Julie Grand and city councilmember Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), who also serves as an ex officio member of PAC.

These are the recommendations being presented at Tuesday’s PAC meeting:

  • Increase programming by adding new classes and other activities: $13,076
  • Expand the trip program: $3,390
  • Restructure agreements with instructors who teach courses at the center: $1,985
  • Decrease the number of computers and applications: $4,000
  • Reduce staffing levels for the lunch program by using volunteers: $3,078
  • Reduce temporary staff time: $3,955
  • Implement a membership fee: $12,500
  • Shift Friday and Sunday programming to other days, making the center available for rental: $5,555
  • Increase the number of rentals: $6,500
  • Increase fundraising: $3,500
  • Increase advertising in the center’s newsletter: $3,000
  • Use a portion of the Flinn bequest to help offset operating costs: $37,333

Assuming that recommendations will be forwarded to the city council by PAC, the council would consider them as part of the overall budget process, starting in February. Decisions on the fate of the senior center and Mack Pool would be made by the council by the time it approves a final budget, likely by its second meeting in May.


  1. By mr dairy
    January 18, 2010 at 9:54 pm | permalink

    Tax breaks and subsidies for developers but cuts to programs used by residents and taxpayers?

    There are some very twisted priorities here.

    And I have to say that while some people, with the best of intentions and loads of intelligence argue the finer points of how City Hall manages our public assets, they are being cut, stolen and reduced to rubble while those smart well intentioned people debate those finer points.

  2. January 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm | permalink

    @1: Mr(?) Dairy: Your comparison is faulty. Its the equivalent of trying to compare apples and screwdrivers.

    Tax breaks/subsidies/other economic inducements are used by people who are willing to DO something. They put their money at risk and – if it works – CREATE something that the community benefits from–taxes, services, products, etc. I’m willing to forgo some tax revenue (thereby increasing my tax share IF it doesn’t work)to try to see some of that happen.

    The programs cited in the article are entertainments and diversions. I have nothing against swimming and providing a place for seniors to play checkers and bridge. I just don’t want to pay for your entertainment. If you want it, generate the money to pay for it.

  3. By mr dairy
    January 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm | permalink

    Ann Arbor is widely known as a good city for retirees. It is also known for its public park facilities. Ask the users of the pool and the senior centers if they think that they are merely entertainment and diversions.

    Ann Arbor is also becoming known for giveaways to developers for projects of dubious necessity. This is nothing but a race to bottom competing with other municipalities on how fast we can give away public assets for unknown tax revenues. Ann Arbor is also known for a terrible track record for public/private partnerships, particularly costly for the public (you, my friend). Let the Valiant Group buy the land from the city at market value. Require them to foot the entire bill for building a conference center and then we’ll see how serious they are. There is no evidence whatsoever that the rosy economic predictions, including the tax revenue will come true. In fact there is evidence quite to contrary that conference centers or big hotels are not economically feasible in a city this size and under these economic conditions. Why else would a supposedly profitable developer come hat in hand and ask for public subsidy and tax breaks unless they aren’t able to make a profit without public assistance. It’s just more corporate welfare.

    Let the market decide and if it’s such a great idea with potential for profit, then the developer should be beating down the doors to build. But let them do it on private property and pay for the entire project with their own money. That’s real capitalism. If the market warrants it, then I’m all for it. But, they can’t do it without public money. And at this time, we’re laying off firefighters, cutting services and can’t rebuild a crucial bridge, you, my friend, want to give away public property and subsidize well heeled developers at the expense of those necessary projects that serve the entire city.

    As it stands, we’re being sold a pig in a poke while we allow our widely appreciated public assets and services are being sold and cut.

    I refuse to foot the bill for your pie in the sky public/private partnerships of unproven necessity that benefit private, for profit enterprises using my tax dollars.

  4. By mr dairy
    January 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm | permalink

    I read Mr Salton’s other post on the Senior Center. Seems he has a problem with using tax dollars for the benefit of taxpayers. Many of whom have paid into the city coffers for many decades for their “diversions and entertainment” in their later years.

    Has it occurred to Mr Salton that for some seniors, the Senior Center might be the only place where they are able to have contact with other seniors? Hah, let them eat cake, all those Burns Park seniors!

    Did it occur to Mr Salton that Mack Pool might be one of the few warm and welcoming public park facilities where families can go during the winter together for their “entertainment”? For those families that cannot afford a Caribbean vacation?

    Reading his derisive comments to Vivienne Armentrout, referring to her sneeringly as a “collectivist”, (code word for communist!) I would venture that Mr Salton is an anti government anti taxer, except where it suits his politics, such as more corporate welfare for profitable businesses at public expense.

  5. By jcp2
    January 19, 2010 at 3:14 pm | permalink

    Imagine that Mr. Salton and Mr. Dairy are housemates.

    I would wager that on a smaller scale, given a loss of personal income, Mr. Salton would turn down the thermostat, cancel the cable, sell the T.V., and skip a few meals in order to buy good paper for his resume, clean his interview suit, upgrade his cellphone and computer, and put gas in his car, all in hopes of finding a better job. He sounds strong, energetic, forward looking.

    What about Mr. Dairy? He seems focused on the past. Perhaps his best days of being strong and energetic are behind him. It happens to everybody eventually. Until we cast off our less productive members of society on Arctic ice floes, Mr. Dairy has a fair point. If Mr. Dairy gives up some creature comforts to enable Mr. Salton to go and find a better job, what assurance can Mr. Salton give Mr. Dairy that the favor will be returned?

  6. By Rod Johnson
    January 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm | permalink

    Passed up a chance to say “Messrs. Salton and Dairy” there. On the upside, that’s a heck of a sitcom premise.

  7. By John
    January 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm | permalink

    Citizens are mere taxpayers, Mr. Salton? Tax breaks for businesses, but nothing for seniors and other parasites? What bizarre ideological nonsense.

  8. January 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm | permalink

    Thanks for the defense, but I didn’t consider Mr. Salton’s remark to be derisive but rather a spirited rejoinder as part of a philosophical discussion. Political philosophy does underlay many of these discussions (a reason to enjoy Chronicle commentary) and that one gave me an opportunity to do some internet surfing. I had long thought of myself as a communitarian and characterized myself that way without much research. Like all labels, this one carries a number of shades but I’m still pretty happy with it. As many references reminded me, it was partly a response to the atomization of society. I consider the “I won’t pay taxes for anyone else’s benefits” as a symptom of that atomization. I was intrigued to find that communitarianism is associated with localism in some corners. Wendell Berry is known as a proponent of both. (And collectivism is a different animal, but that’s for our next fireside chat.)

  9. January 19, 2010 at 7:37 pm | permalink

    I suspect that “John” and “Mr.Dairy” fail to use their real or complete names because they really don’t believe in the opinions that they offer. Given the judgment that the commentators are not serious, it is not worth wasting electrons answering them.

    It is worth pointing out that a couple of hundred thousand dollars would save both the pool and the senior center. How about applying some entrepreneurial initiatives to raise the money? If “John” and “Mr.Dairy” don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit themselves, maybe they can find some people who do and enlist them in their cause. Ann Arbor is full of these kinds of people. They are just not going to be attracted by the kinds of entitlement arguments being made.

    @8: Vivienne- you and I do not share a common philosophy. But your willingness to use your name commands respect and attention.

    Vivienne, I am not only willing to pay taxes for someone else’s benefit but my firm voluntarily contributes as generously as we can to charities (my favorite is the Salvation Army). My objection to the pool and the senior center is based on the specific nature of the expenditure. “Investing” in recreation when we are laying off teachers, firemen and city workers appears to me to be downright vulgar if not repulsive. Earn the money, build up a financial cushion and THEN go out and build all the recreational and entertainment facilities that you wish. Just don’t do it on the backs of people who are being put out on the street.

  10. By mr dairy
    January 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm | permalink

    “Given the judgment that the commentators are not serious, it is not worth wasting electrons answering them.”

    Followed by a couple of paragraphs of wasted electrons.

    I’m as serious as a patient scheduled for heart surgery not knowing if my health care provider might decide to cancel my policy.

    Just because Mr Salton says so, does not make it so.