Poor summer weather creates issues for public pools

It’s closing day for many public swimming pools in the region, and no amount of Labor Day Weekend sunshine can wash away the disappointment of the past few months.

Mike Hofer, executive director of the Blair County Central Recreation Commission, described the season’s rainy effect on Prospect Pool succinctly.

“I can say one word: terrible,” he said. “I’ve been with the commission for 15 years. This was far and away, weather-wise, the worst season for the commission.”

Hofer said a combination of early rain and late-season cool temperatures kept guests from Prospect Pool, with only seven to 10 days of perfect pool weather seen throughout the summer.

The pool closed for the season Aug. 16, Hofer said, without breaking the 100-guest mark on any single day in August.

“Our numbers in August were absolutely horrible,” he said.

Drier-than-average temperatures after an abnormally rainy June weren’t enough to make a wildly successful season – but Hofer said the Altoona recreation commission could still break even or turn a small profit, thanks largely to cheaper chemicals and smarter management.

They daily average this month was 47 guests, according to commission statistics, while last August averaged 82 guests per day. That represents a 42-percent drop in a year.

Season-long guests numbers dropped 14 percent from last year, according to a commission chart.

Managers frequently had to call lifeguards and workers – most of them high school and college students working seasonally – and tell them to stay home. Others were sent home early on slow days, Hofer said.

“That was tough. It was a struggle for my people,” he said.

On late mornings, with foreboding clouds in the skies and temperatures dropping, pool employees often had to weigh whether remaining open was worth the time and expense, Hofer said.