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Saturday, March 24 News

Waveny Pool opens for season, welcomes nonresidents

One hundred families from neighboring towns, including Darien, Norwalk, Stamford and Wilton, will swim at Waveny Pool this summer, according to Recreation Director Stephen Benko.

The 100 season-long passes were sold for $1,000 per family, he said. On top of that, 439 resident passes have been sold as of May 30, Benko said.

This is the second year the department has allowed out-of-towners into the pool since the facility opened in 2002. When passes were first sold to nonresidents last year, dozens of New Canaan residents took to an online petition to protest the decision, saying the facility had become too crowded and less clean.

Though no more nonresident passes will be sold, Benko said the goal is to sell more passes than last year, when a total of 830 were sold. "I'm hoping that we're going to exceed that," he said.

Benko noted that many people buy their passes when summer officially starts.

More Information

Waveny Pool's hours of operation:
Weekends: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Weekdays: 2 to 7 p.m. (until June 13)
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (starting June 16)
Fourth of July: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Labor Day weekend: noon to 6 p.m.

"The weather's been crummy this spring, and no one's really thinking about swimming," he said.

The 50-meter pool officially opened May 31. Passes for resident families cost $475 this year, up from $385 in 2013.

Benko said the department had to open the pool to nonresidents again because membership has dropped over the years, especially since the 2008 financial crisis. He said nonresidents did not cause any problems at the facility.

New Canaan resident Catalina Garcia, who has been an avid user of the pool since she and her family became members three years ago, said it makes perfect sense to allow nonresidents to join the facility.

"The problem with this pool is that it feels very crowded in the beginning of the summer, but then everybody leaves town and then the pool is almost empty," Garcia said.

Prior to 2009, the pool had an annual membership of about 850, according to Benko. That year, however, the number dropped to about 670. Benko said the department needs to sell 850 to keep the fees reasonable.

In 2013, the pool had 830 members, including 100 nonresidents.

Besides the low attendance during the summer months, Garcia thinks the facility indeed needs more resources to stay open.

"They need a lot of maintenance," she said. "I think they need a lot of painting."

Benko said there were about 275 names on a waiting list for nonresident passes, so a lottery decided which ones would obtain passes.

Garcia called the membership fee "extremely expensive," but she said it feels cheaper for her because she has four kids.

Pass holders must present their photo identification cards to the pool gate attendant before every entry to the facility. Families can obtain a nanny or au pair pass for $125.

To purchase a pool pass, residents should visit the Recreation Department office at Waveny House.

For information, contact the department at 203-594-3600.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson

Nelson Oliveira|Education/general assignment reporter