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It just got more expensive to swim in Mecklenburg County indoor pools

Mecklenburg resident Julianna Jones swims freestyle at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. Daily rates at county indoor pools approximately doubled on Monday.
Mecklenburg resident Julianna Jones swims freestyle at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. Daily rates at county indoor pools approximately doubled on Monday. ksturgill@charlotteobserver.com

The daily entrance fees for Mecklenburg County’s indoor pools approximately doubled this week.

The change marks the county’s first price hike since before 2008. Adult resident admission doubled, from $5 to $10 at Mecklenburg County Aquatics Center. Youth admission went from $3 to $8. And seniors now pay $8 rather than $4.

Non-resident adults pay the most: $15 rather than $8.

Prices at Ray’s Splash Planet also increased, now matching fees at the Mecklenburg County Aquatics Center. County outdoor pools will continue to charge a $1 daily fee until Labor Day.

The Park and Recreation Department also ended its aquatics pass, which cost $41 per month for an adult resident. Now, it offers a “Meck Pass” that costs $45 per month for Mecklenburg adults. The new pass also includes access to the county’s five fitness centers, according to Terri Stowers, director of Community and Recreation Services and Aquatics.

Pros Consulting recommended the cost changes after running a market study, Stowers said. She doesn’t anticipate the increased costs will affect the number of daily swimmers.

The price increase comes before Mecklenburg County opens its Eastway Regional Recreation Center in late spring or summer 2020. The 93,000-square-foot center will include two pools: one for leisure, the other for lap swimming.

Along with the price changes, the county eliminated its discounted rate for people with disabilities. Previously, the disability rate was equal to the senior rate. Now, swimmers with disabilities pay the rate determined by their age.

The Americans with Disabilities Act “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.” In this case, county commissioner Pat Cotham said, equal treatment means people with disabilities have to pay the full price.

Park and Recreation Director Lee Jones said some people with disabilities think that “offering a reduced fee is calling attention to their situation.”

While Mecklenburg County indoor pools no longer offers a disability rate, Jones said they will continue to allow caregivers to access the pool free of charge, as the ADA requires.

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