2014-01-17 / Front Page

Hot tub interest hoped to be more

By Sean P. Milligan
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – The city of South Portland has begun fundraising for a new hot tub at the community center after taking the previous community hot tub out of commission in 2003. The city hopes to raise enough money to install the new stainless steel tub in August.

Since the idea was introduced there have been two teams formed to bring the hot tub to fruition. It is chaired by City Councilor Tom Blake while the design committee, chaired by Parks and Recreation Director Rick Towle, was made responsible for picking out the best equipment for the space available at the community center and creating the best installation method and maintenance procedures for that equipment.

Lead by Jan Crosby, the fundraising committee has been responsible for reaching out to the community to raise money toward its $100,000 goal. The amount will cover the majority of the costs that come with purchasing a hot tub.

“In short money times it’s hard to say, ‘Hey, taxpayers, we need $100,000 for a hot tub’ while we’re eliminating programs and laying off employees,” Blake said. “I’m always one for having the community do it. When everybody contributes it’s more valuable, it’s more appreciated.”

Due to budget cuts, the city was unable to fund the entire operation. However, the city will be responsible for taking care of approximately $60,000 to $80,000 of the costs related to the installation and maintenance of the hot tub.

The original hot tub was also not paid for by the city, but donated by a nonprofit in the late 1970s. The PVC pipes that supplied and drained water from the tub cracked over time, leading to an increase in the amount of water used.

In 2003, it was projected that the combination of potential repair costs and the ever-increasing water bill was insurmountable.

“The hot tub was using a significant amount of water per day so at that point it was deemed very costly to operate and we had to explore replacing it,” said Jim Gailey, South Portland city manager.

The unused hole was finally filled in during the past year to be used for additional technical space.

The Hot Tub Committee has used multiple platforms to reach out to the community. They have reached out to businesses for donations and held fundraising events, including a golf tournament in the fall that was cancelled due to lack of attendees.

According to Blake, a committee member will donate a “major item” to be liquidated by auction, raffle or another method that will simultaneously boost public awareness of the effort at a future date.

One area of fundraising where the committee has struggled with is private donations.

“We’ve had half a dozen individuals send checks in, but we thought it would be dozens, if not more by this point,” Blake said. “I thought we would have received a fair number of checks for $50, $100, $200 bucks but those checks just haven’t come in yet.”

South Portland residents are encouraged to send donations to city hall:

South Portland City Hall

Attn: Hot Tub

25 Cottage Road

South Portland, ME 04106

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