Drops in the budget bucket

There was a Google Street View of Public Bath No.2 here, but apparently that was causing some browsers to go a little kooky.

Albany's Public Bath No. 2 -- an indoor swimming pool in the South End -- has probably gotten more attention over the last few weeks than it's received in the last few years (or decades).

Funding for the pool was slated to be chopped because of a budget crunch, but the Common Council passed a budget amendment to restore the funding. That prompted Jerry Jennings to take the unusual step (as in, he's never done it before) of vetoing the amendment. And with a very reasonable rationale: "We're talking over $225,000 a year. And that's too much money to spend on a very small number of people that use it." [TU] [YNN]

Common Councilwoman Leah Golby -- who's been one of the most vocal supporters of the pool recently -- formally asked the mayor to rescind his veto today (well, technically yesterday). Her full memo is after the jump -- and she, too, makes a reasonable argument: basically that cutting the funding isn't affecting taxes, and the pool is a unique city asset in a neighborhood that's already lacking city amenities.

In the grand scheme of things, this pool isn't a huge issue. The money involved is a tiny slice of the city budget. And apparently there aren't that many people who currently use the pool. But this is the sort of issue that a lot of municipalities are facing as they look to cut wherever they can. Sure, it's not much money -- but it's something. And it all adds up eventually. But at what cost (financial, cultural, social or otherwise)?

There are going to be a lot more discussions like this all over the Capital Region during the next few years. And there's no easy answer.

Earlier on AOA: Public Bath No. 2 was named to Historic Albany's list of endangered buildings this week

Golby Amendment for Public Bath No. 2

Comments

In a time where every municipality and government entity is screaming for money, shouldn't we close a building that very few people use, is old and in need of repair? People would be screaming if this could only be used by the ruling class (thus got the same amount of use). Use that $200k and put more cops on the street in that neighborhood; I'm sure its residents will get more use out of them than a pool.

It's a shame. I never knew this place existed. Sounds like a great asset. I think the City would be better served by advertising these recreational opportunities. How do they expect people to use these resources if no one knows about them?

I disagree "A". Renovate the building and put in programming that will make the Bath a neighborhood asset people use and then you won't need more cops on the beat in the South End. You will end up saving money in the long run by improving the quality of life of residents in the South End. A safer South End, means people and businesses will want to move in. That translates to more tax revenue for the City and lower property taxes for homeowners.

I live within walking distance of the bath house. My 6yr old daughter uses the bath house weekly. She has a physical disability (CP) and swimming often helps her stay strong. Please keep the bath house open.
Also our first line of revenue in our city budget is residential property tax. The historic and available housing stock in our city is mostly located in the downtown. If the root of the problem is lack of money we should be doing everything possible to attract and retain taxpayers in the downtown.
Unfortunately we continue to see services cut and programs that serve downtown vanish. :-(
No matter where you live in Albany its clear with this years budget that we have a serious problem. We are all in it together, a strong downtown with walkable amenities and vibrant neighborhoods is the cornerstone of a successful city.

Cut, Cut, Cut as a strategy is just simply the wrong direction.

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