Some things age with more grace than others, and the pool at Cumberland’s Constitution Park is one of them. It’s 80 years old this year and is in fine shape after having undergone what amounted to a series of facelifts.
A couple of years ago, the pool was in need of renovation, and there was talk that it might have to be closed because that would be expensive and the city was on hard financial times and the pool was losing about $80,000 a year.
However, the pool and Constitution Park itself are two of Cumberland’s greatest assets, and the will and the money were found to restore the pool.
As we said at the time, $80,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $1.2 million shortfall the city was facing at the time.
Besides, our pool was never meant to operate at a profit. Neither is any other municipal pool. Pools are a service designed to benefit the public — just like street maintenance and water and sewer service.
Parks and Recreation director Diane Johnson said the pool has been relined and the blue slide resurfaced, there have been cosmetic upgrades and lighting improved, the downstairs has been refurbished and nonslip flooring and new plumbing have been installed.
The children’s pool, regular pool and bathhouse underwent significant improvement, thanks to a $278,000 Maryland Department of Natural Resources Program Open Space Community Parks and Playgrounds grant.
Johnson said she hopes attendance will be up this year. It was down in 2018 because the rain washed out a lot of days — just as it washed out a lot of other things people wanted to do.
In 2017, 17,220 people paid to use the pool. It is open only during June and July and in August until public schools reopen, and on Labor Day weekend Sept. 1-3, so that amounts to about 190 a day.
“We’re hoping for a better summer this year,” she said.
Pool hours are noon to 7 p.m. in June and July and noon to 6 p.m. in August.
Swimming lessons are offered for a small fee and free family outdoor movie events are held there.
Various organizations and businesses pay group rates for day camps and other activities. Pool reservation includes use of the swimming area, slide and lifeguards, use of a reserved area of the deck, tables, trashcans and canopy.
Half-price admission is charged on Wednesdays and at other times, and swim cards and passes are available at reduced rates. Different rates for season passes and cards that are good for 15 swims also are available.
Public pools may not be as popular as they once were, but people —especially kids —love to go swimming. Private pools have become prevalent, and there are other alternatives like that of the Cumberland YMCA, which has good programs of its own.
Sadly, too many of our youngsters have limited resources, and during the summer, the Constitution Park pool might be about the only recreational option they have — particularly when it is hot.
Our archives reveal that 924 people used the park pool in one day, a “free day” in 2013, when the temperature was 90 degrees.
The forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s and low 90s, not much different than it has been.
On one recent day, 865 people used the pool.
You don’t have to be a member to swim in our pool. Anybody can come and use it. It’s one of the best things that we have. It will cost you a few dollars (a snack bar is available, and that will cost you a little more), and you can stay there until your skin wrinkles ... or closing time.
In 2017, when the pool had a good year because of the weather, those 17,200 people who paid to use it generated about $39,000 in revenue.
That works out to an average of $2.26 per person, per day, to take part in an activity that we learn to love as small children and can keep on loving when we’re old, at the same time it keeps us healthier and helps us live longer.
And good luck buying a decent cheeseburger for $2.26. Cumberland’s Constitution Park pool has to be one of the best bargains anywhere.