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Oswegoland Park District Declines Mom's Request for Family Pool Passes

Mar 08, 2016 07:19PM ● By Shannon Antinori

The Oswegoland Park District has decided not to offer family pool passes this summer after a resident request.

Big families won’t get a break on the cost of pool passes this year despite the efforts of an Oswego mom who recently appealed to the Oswegoland Park District.

Citing nearby park districts that offer family packages or flat fees for families of four or more, Michele Dutton brought her request to the park board at its Feb. 18 meeting. She said she also approached the board about family passes last year, but her request came too close to the start of pool pass sales.

Dutton, a mom of five, said passes for her family would cost more than $420.

“To me, that’s just crazy,” she said, especially given that the park district’s two pools are typically open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“The season is maybe eight weeks if the weather is good,” Dutton said.

Superintendent of Recreation Tom Betsinger said after crunching the numbers, it isn't feasible to offer a flat rate for families due to the costs of operations, maintenance and staffing at the park district pools.

“We certainly recognize that having a really big family, it can get expensive,” Betsinger said, but added, “We don’t expect smaller families to subsidize the recreation activities of larger families.”

The park district does offer an early bird pre-season pass for $59 per person. Regular-season passes start at $79 per person, with a 10 percent discount for each additional family member.

Betsinger said this year, the park district is also offering a coupon book with all pre-season passes, which includes a $3 coupon for concessions, two free admissions to aquatic special events and a free daily pass for a friend.

“We try to offer a variety of passes to fit different lifestyles,” including a twilight pass for those who can’t use the pool during the day, Betsinger said. “It’s hard to accommodate the needs of all families, but we try to offer different options.”

Betsinger added that park district prices don't seem to be deterring large families. About 18 percent of groups that purchases passes last year were families of five or more, he said.

"There's a lot of opportunities to swim, with two aquatic parks and about 100 days (in the season), depending on the weather," Betsinger said.

For Dutton, the park district’s decision not to offer family passes is disappointing.

She cited Centennial Beach in nearby Naperville, which offers a non-resident pre-season family pass for $260, as well as the Fox Valley Park District, which has a brand-new non-resident early bird family pass for $276.

The Plainfield Park District also offers early bird and regular-season pool passes for families of two, three and four. A flat fee is charged for families of five or more. Dutton said she will probably purchases a family pass to Fox Valley’s Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center.

"We’re super excited about that,” she said, but added she’s disappointed the family can’t use a pool closer to home. “It’s just sad that we can’t ride our bikes and I can’t send my older kids alone.”

Oswegoland Park District pre-season pool passes for both the Civic Center Aquatic Park and Winrock Pool are on sale April 1 to 15. Regular-season prices take effect April 16.