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OPINION: Opportunity for pool pass reform is at hand

OPINION: Opportunity for pool pass reform is at hand

By Mike Brodinsky

NOT WELCOME IN COMMUNITY POOL! They are as smart and as cute as they can be. They are my wife's grandnephews who live in Toronto. Lucas is 6.  His little brother, James, is 4.  They've been taking swimming lessons, and their swim instructors, together with their parents, Lisa and Alex, must be doing something very right. Those little guys are swimmers and divers now, and they're eager to show Uncle Mike and Nanna Ann their prowess. 

So, together with their Uncle Bill, this family of 5 is loading up the car and driving down to Wallingford for a week of fun. We'll do some hiking, and we'll look at dinosaur footprints. We'll go to Hammonasset and maybe Mystic, too. We'll get ice cream cones at our favorite place in Durham and lobster rolls in Madison. We'd also love to go to Community Pool so the boys can show off their stuff at a place close to home. But based upon its pricing policy, Community Pool doesn't want us.

 You see, according to the town's pool policy, all of my wife's family are non-residents. And even though we'd go to Community Pool for just one afternoon, we'd have to buy two-week, non-resident passes. Non-residents, regardless of age, must pay $30 each. When we add in the costs for our own passes, $15 apiece, Annie and I would have to pay $180 to host our guests to an afternoon at Community Pool. So, we'll wait for next year; maybe (laugh out loud) something will change.

A timely opportunity for reform is at hand, however. The plans for the reconstruction of the pool could be revealed within the next few weeks.  That would be a great time to present proposals for some new concepts for pool management that have been talked about for years.  For example, maybe a vendor could sell food at the pool. French fries and burgers would smell terrific, there. And, folks should be able to buy passes on-line, including day passes.  Maybe we could have a new category of passes for out-of-town guests of residents. There's much more needs to be said about the pool, but not in this column, dear reader, as we're running out of space.

THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW! As I dug into this topic of pool passes, I came across another wearisome situation. I wanted to review some minutes of the meetings of the Parks and Recreation Commission to see whether pool passes had been discussed.  I went on-line to the town's website, navigated to the button where I should find the minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission. And I clicked. A page opened.  Minutes for 2013 and earlier were there, but nothing more current.

The Parks and Recreation Commission, by the way, takes very nice minutes for every meeting, and it forwards them to the Town Clerk which is standard procedure. But that's where they sit.  Posting both agendas and minutes promptly on-line appears to be an insurmountable management problem occurring somewhere on the 3rd floor of town hall. Or, the official position of the town is that if a resident wants to read minutes that are not on-line (some are; some are not), a resident must get into his/her car during business hours and drive to the town clerk's office, and request the file of the particular government department of interest.

In the case of my little research project, with the help of a Freedom of Information Act request, the Parks and Recreation Department courteously and promptly emailed the minutes to me.  But folks shouldn't have to go through that. Maybe we need an ordinance that requires prompt posting of agendas and minutes, because the administration can't seem to get it done if it's left to its own devices.  The details of such an ordinance would be left to the legislative process.

As a public service, here's an unofficial tabulation of governmental units whose agendas and minutes, generally speaking, appear on-line:  Town Council; Conservation Commission; Economic Development Commission; Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission; Public Utilities Commission; Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee; Wallingford 350th Jubilee Committee; Zoning Board of Appeals.

Agendas and Minutes are not, generally speaking, regularly and reliably posted on-line for the following:  Parks and Recreation Commission; Board of Assessment Appeals; Board of Ethics; Board of Health; Historic Properties Commission; Pension Commission; Personnel and Pension Appeals Board; Planning and Zoning Commission; Public Celebrations Committee; Wallingford Regional Solid Waste Project.  Ask your council and mayoral candidates what they plan to do about that.

Mike Brodinsky is a former Wallingford town councilor and host of “Citizen Mike” on WPAA-TV.