A Letter from the President of the Oak Hill Pool Board of Directors As we come to the end of the swim season for 2018 I would like to review where we have been, where we are at currently, and where we are headed.
First, I want to thank you, the members of Oak Hill. Without you there would simply be no pool. Oak Hill is now in its 61st year of operation, providing a great place for families to gather for summer 'Fun in the Sun' each year. The Ralston Recreation Association was established in 1956 with the goal of providing such a place, and for 60 years has fulfilled this mission. Oak Hill Pool opened in 1958 with over 400 memberships! Our number one priority will continue to be providing this summer getaway for our great members.
The pool officially opened on Memorial Day, May 28th. We had a gathering for the guards and board members on Friday, May 25. It was at this time that we discovered a major leak in our feeder pipe to the diving pool. We immediately began work to repair this. In so doing, we had to lower the level of the diving pool 3 separate times, which added some major cost to our water bills. Jeff Elkins tore up the concrete, and after following some bad advice, we called on Joe Marino and Dave Buckley to assist. They were able to prepare a workaround and within a couple weeks the diving pool was again opened for business. Though we learned some valuable lessons, the damage had been done as we took a big hit to our budget.
As the season progressed we ran into a couple of 'natural' issues. A form of yellow algae was affecting all Omaha area pools. Our manager knew right away how to address this and was able to purchase the necessary chemicals to wipe out this unfriendly fungus. This again added to our costs, as more than $500 was spent on chemicals we normally would not need. There were also many more vacuums and regular chemical adjustments made to ensure the safety of our swimmers. The other issue was the appearance of bagworms on our evergreen bushes. This amounted to $50 worth of neem oil, which was sprayed twice on the bushes. We only noticed a handful of these hatch. Most fell off and were tossed in the dumpster.
Finally, we had a valve break on the outside of the pool. This is the main valve which provides water to our facility and needed to be repaired. I made the case that this should be paid for by MUD and or/City of Ralston, since the break occurred before our meter. MUD rules state that because the valve is actually on our property, it is still our responsibility. This amounted to another unexpected expense of $1000.
Though we faced these challenges, we made every effort to deal with each. I believe we did quite well. The only problem was the additional outflow of nearly $5,000 to handle all of this, about half of that being the extra water used.
Many positives occurred as well. We added some new board members who all brought new ideas and fresh thinking to the board. Steve was able to repair some lighting, which allows us to stay open a little longer if necessary. Brandon assisted him and helped to add a new valve in the drain pit. Joe and Dave provided some much needed training in pool operation, back washing the filters, and the like. We are very appreciative of their willingness to help us!
We had some new lifeguards this year and we are very pleased with their attitude and efforts. We will keep them all in mind for next year!
We had a new swim coach this year along with 2 assistants. We are very grateful for Mary Beth Cote stepping in on late notice to lead our team! She is not sure that she will be available next year, but we shall see! Bob Henchal assisted with meets but was unable to coach this year. Bob has been a vital member and friend of Oak Hill for many years. We still anticipate his involvement, but do not know at this time to what extent next year.
We had 3 planned parties this year along with member scheduled parties. All were great! We are using the data from these to review our policies, prices and procedures.
We had minimal injuries, cuts, bruises, etc. this year and we are grateful for this.
I would like to address the early close this Labor Day weekend. A few things to note: 1. Our budget was stretched and we were unable to schedule guards for the final weekend; 2. The forecast as of Saturday morning was for heavy storms to move in about 6 PM Saturday and continue off and on through Wednesday; 3. After every storm a lot of clean up needs to happen - vacuuming the pools (a 4-5 hour job for all of the pools) - sweeping/hosing the deck - back washing the filters - and usually an adjustment to the chemicals.
Early Saturday, I made the decision to call for a vote of the board on whether to close Saturday at 6 PM. The decision was agreed to. I am truly sorry that the final 2 days could not be enjoyed by our members, especially when the storms did not materialize as forecast. Had we remained open, we did not know if we could maintain the pool to the clean level we expect. There was no guarantee storms would not roll in. If lightening appeared, we would have had to close anyway. So this was not a difficult decision, really, but a sad one nonetheless. The buck stops with me, Mark Riggle, so if any further questions about this arise, I will be happy to discuss.
Our future looks quite bright! We are reviewing our processes, policies, prices, procedures - everything really - using data and experience from this year and prior years as well. We have some urgent needs and there is only one way to address these - money! The number one item we need is:
New filters - We cannot open without new filters. Many of filters are broken or deteriorated but keep in mind these are 60 years old. Our system simply will not handle the amount of debris, lotions, leaves, bugs, etc. that come through the system without being replaced. There are many other specific items we need or would like to upgrade. A list of these items with estimated costs will be sent to the Ralston Foundation and a couple other charitable organizations. We hope to gather enough resources to accomplish this main goal and some of the others as well.
Fundamentally, we are looking at a plan to create a second, sister organization that would act as a fundraising arm. We believe this is vital to the survival of this pool. I do not have major details, but we are working to make this happen. We believe we can get the pool on more solid financial ground for the future through this effort. If anyone has fundraising experience (corporate level would be beneficial}, we would like to know if you would be interested in serving in this capacity. We expect this would be a three year commitment.
As a general rule we need about 125 memberships in total to stay financially viable. This year we had 97. At the beginning of this letter I mentioned that in 1958 there were over 400 memberships. We definitely have work to do. With your support, we will get there! Please invite others to join the pool and enjoy some 'Fun in the Sun!'
As this Fall progresses, I will send out another letter to inform you of our progress and any changes we have made.
Mark Riggle, President Ralston Recreation Association