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Letter to the Editor: Forest Hills Pool Prices Too High

A resident new to the area says that the borough's pool rates are too high.

My wife and I are fairly new to Pittsburgh, having moved here from Ohio early last year. We bought our house in Forest Hills last April.

The 2013 admission price schedule for the Forest Hills pool was published in the latest Tree City Times, and I was surprised because the daily admission prices and the season pass rates seemed considerably higher than anywhere else I've lived. Today I spent a little too much time poking around online, and confirmed my initial impression.

I called Recreation Director Cindy Simm, and she insisted that the pricing at Forest Hills Pool is lower than four or five nearby pools, but the only one she named was the Edgewood Club, which is private. 

Comparing Forest Hills Pool's rates to every other publicly owned pool I could find in Allegheny County (listed below) that posts rate information online:

  • Forest Hills Pool has the highest fee for a resident family season pass ($295), which is 17 percent higher than the next-most-expensive (Mt. Lebanon) and 96 percent higher than the average ($150.71).
  • Forest Hills Pool has the highest fee for a resident individual season pass ($165), which is 43 percent higher than the next most expensive (Hampton Township) and 146 perent higher than the average ($67).
  • Forest Hills Pool has the highest fee for a resident senior citizen season pass ($95), which is 27 percent higher than the next most expensive (Rosslyn Farms Borough) and 170 percent more than the average ($35.13).
  • Forest Hills has the highest fee for resident daily admission ($7), 17 percent higher than the next most expensive (several pools charge $6) and 39 percent higher than the average ($5.03)
  • Two other pools charge more than Forest Hills for youth daily admission because they do not offer special rates for younger swimmers.  Nevertheless, the Forest Hills Pool daily admission rate for children under ten is 14 percent higher than the average of $4.40.
  • Forest Hills Pool has the highest ratio of individual season pass cost to daily admission rate. In other communities, a resident adult must use the pool an average of 14 times for a season pass to make sense. In Forest Hills, a resident adult must use the pool 24 times for a season pass to make sense.

These numbers are based on the most recent price schedules available—some from 2013, most from 2012 and a few from 2011—for these Allegheny County publicly owned community pools.*

As I said above, I am new to the area and am still getting my bearings here.  Forest Hills may have some legitimate reasons for structuring its pool fees this way, but I am doubtful that it serves the community well.

Jon Holmes

Forest Hills

* Above figures are based on the most recent available rate schedules found online, a few dated 2013, mostly 2012 and a few more from 2011: Allegheny County Parks Swimming  & Wave Pools, Borough of Avalon Pool, Baldwin Borough Swimming Pool, Bellevue Borough Pool, Borough of Etna Swimming Pool, Brentwood Borough Pool, Crafton Borough Pool, Forest Hills Pool, Green Tree Swimming Pool at Wilson Park, Hampton Township Community Pool, Monroeville's Bel-Aire Pool, Mt. Lebanon Outdoor Swim Center, Pittsburgh Citiparks pools, Rosslyn Farms Borough, Scott Township Pool, Shaler Township's Crawford Swimming Pool and White Oak Borough pool.

Do you agree about the pool prices? Do you think the prices are fair? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Cindy March 07, 2013 at 09:05 PM
I live in Edgewood and would be happy to pay the for a family pass at the Forest Hills pool if I could get one. As someone pointed out, the Edgewood Club is nearly $900, way out of my budget! And yes, it's a private club, but I'm not sure the amenities are any "nicer" than those of the Forest Hills pool. I did belong to the Edgewood Club 10 or 15 years ago, but it's become too expensive. And I've visited the Forest Hills pool as a guest, and have been impressed by both the pool and the party/activity room.
Guy Russo March 08, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I think that it would be a good idea to present some more options to residents for pool passes. Perhaps some "partial season passes" (maybe something like 20 visits for $80). There has been SOME improvement in options the past few years in that season pass holders can purchase 10 extra daily passes for $45, and 10 more for $50 after July 15, but that still requires the initial expense of the somewhat overpriced regular season pass. The idea I mentioned at the beginning of this comment might entice some Forest Hills residents who would not attend the pool at all because of the high cost of the daily admission and/or full season pass to reconsider.
Stacey March 29, 2013 at 10:08 PM
2013 will be our 7th summer living in the borough, and the price has gone up significantly since we moved here - I think it was $225 in 2006? We bought a pass once, but it rained most of the summer, and our 3-year-old was prohibited from using a lifejacket in the main pool. ???? They said flotation devices were only allowed in the baby pool. again, ???? The main pool was too deep for her even in the shallowest part, and even though this was a coast guard-approved life jacket, they wouldn't let her wear it. I'm disappointed in the pool - it seems like a private club for wealthier residents with older kids and teenagers. I have felt uncomfortable there the few times we have gone.
Churchill Recreation Board April 30, 2013 at 02:40 PM
To clarify Churchill prices from Swimmer777: The "Churchill: private, bankrupted pool" refers to the recently closed Churchill Valley Country Club facility. Churchill Borough doesn't have and never has operated a swimming pool. Also note, the "Edgewood" is not to be confused with the Edgewood Country Club in Churchill, but the private Edgewood Club at the CC Mellor Library in Edgewood. And Blackridge's prices are actually significantly higher for a family of 3 or more: at $425 for the summer months plus you have to pay another $45 per household on top of that for the association membership so it is really $470. THere are discounted rates for a variety of family sizes, first time families, the second year of membership (that's the $360 level--plus $45). I totally sympathize with you that costs don't seem to justify the occasional dip. But on the other hand, many Churchill residents look to Forest Hills swim club and say "where's ours?" Now that you have looked at the costs, try taking a look at the expense of running a pool these days. I just checked out the YMCA and there is one in Wilmerding-check out their pool prices. Also, I notice that Pittsburgh is following suit with many other cities in REPLACING public swimming pools with "spray parks" for cooling down. There's a new twist on keeping a community open space, cold water, and fun for kids without the overhead of pool maintenance and supervision. A pool IS a luxury these days.
Jon Holmes April 30, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Thanks for commenting on this, CRB. The only Blackridge pool that Google is turning up for me is the private Blackridge Swim Club. If Blackridge has a publicly owned pool, I would appreciate a link.

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