Cumberland Times-News

August 30, 2013

Pool operating costs draining Keyser’s budget

City leaders discussing options, including renovation, rebuilding

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — The Keyser Council recently discussed the operating costs of the John R. Shelton Pool and what the city could do to lower them.

The latest operating cost for the pool was roughly $123,000 for three months. About $73,000 was used for utilities and $88,000 a year had to be pulled from the general budget to cover operating costs, according to Mayor Randy Amtower.

“I don’t see how we can keep operating with this much of a financial burden to the city. The budget is getting tighter and tighter every year,” said Amtower. “It’s such an extensive expense for such a little return.”

Amtower said that general budget funds being could better serve other needs within the city.

“I respect the fact that the community needs a pool but there is another way to do it so that it doesn’t take away from community somewhere else,” said Amtower.  

Despite the fact that pool rates were raised by 10 percent last year, revenue was down due to poor attendance and lousy weather, according to Amtower.

“I think pool manager Nick Landis and his staff did a good job, when the weather was bad he sent the staff home. It was very commendable on his part,” said Amtower.

The pool uses 1950s technology and under the existing permit can’t be updated to meet all the current standards. Due to current standards, updates for the pool would have to be across the board, according to Amtower. The water in the pool isn’t recirculated like it is in modern pools and it would be cheaper to build a new pool rather than to renovate it, Amtower said. A year ago the cost of renovating the pool was about $250,000.

The council discussed the possibilities of rebuilding the pool, building an indoor/outdoor facility or partnering with other entities to create a wellness center similar to Hampshire Wellness and Fitness Center, according to Amtower. Hampshire County partnered with Valley Health to build the fitness center. There is a possibility that the city could partner with Potomac State College in building a wellness center, according to Amtower.

“There may be some federal dollars available for things that service the entire community, we just have to find it,” said Amtower.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers grants for things like a fitness center, according to Amtower.

Amtower stressed that the discussion about the pool was just in the preliminary phase and funds can’t be found until a decision is reached.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at