The town of Hollywood Park looks to reduce the occasional large crowd or the risk of encountering an unruly visitor at the Voigt Park swimming pool.
City Council met Sept. 21 to discuss possible solutions, including a restriction on alcoholic beverages around the pool, a dedicated pool gate attendant or raising entry fees on nonresidents.
Public Works Director Kelly Cowan sought the council’s guidance on these and other matters at Voigt Park following an increase in residents’ complaints about crowds and visitors’ poolside drinking.
The swim season ended Sept. 30, so the city has a few months to come up with a new user policy for the pool before the 2022 swim season begins.
“I would like for us to be proactive and, by the January [council] meeting, to have everything figured out,” Cowan said.
According to Police Chief Shad Prichard, as of Sept. 21, there had been 53 calls for service at the Voigt Park pool this year.
Police responded to nearly 40 calls at the pool even in 2020 when COVID-19 pandemic caused a clampdown on large gatherings.
“Obviously, there’s an issue this year that, in past years, hasn’t been so prevalent. Much of it is alcohol-related,” Prichard said.
The city contracts with an area company, Aquatica Pool Management, to manage the Voigt Park pool with lifeguards, some of whom end up dealing with a disorderly visitor.
Prichard said this is a challenge because it is typically teenagers trying to tell adults how to behave at a public facility.
But Prichard said, in his opinion, alcoholic use around the pool poses risks.
“Alcohol, water and kids don’t mix,” he added.
Council Member Glenna Pearce said she and most residents have long seen the pool as a family-friendly place, “So what changes are needed to get us back to that place?” she said.
Pearce recalled at least one incident of a visitor getting unruly at the pool, adding that fellow residents feel Hollywood Park’s pool has become too popular, especially for nonresidents.
City Attorney Ryan Henry said local ordinances already prohibit smoking at city facilities, adding that those in charge of maintaining the Voigt Park complex need stronger enforcement.
Council Member Sean Moore, among others, suggested the pool complex needs a dedicated gate attendant to check incoming visitors to ensure compliance with any future limits on alcohol.
Council Member Debbie Trueman said checking pool visitors' bags and coolers sounds extreme.
“You don’t necessarily go to the pool to drink; you go to swim,” she added.
Henry said the city could curb the number of nonresidents, but because the Voigt Park complex is a publicly funded venue, nonresidents cannot be banned from using it.
“You can make a distinction between residents and nonresidents,” he added.
More discussion on pool rules will happen this fall, council members said.