No pass outs policy creates stir at new Franklin pool

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Some people are having to pay more at the newly-renovated Franklin Family Aquatic Center.

With the facility's new slide and amenities comes a new policy: No pass outs. That means once pool users pay their daily fee - between $2-5, depending on age - they can't leave and return without paying again.

Parks Director Chip Orner says the new rule is meant to keep smokers from leaving the pool to light up just outside the entrance as they'd done the last few years, after smoking was banned in the pool area.

"We want to promote a family, friendly, healthy atmosphere and not have people having to wade through smoke to get into our brand new facility," Orner said.

He said the new rule is also meant to keep people from going to their cars to drink alcohol.

Michele Williams, who put out her cigarette before heading in with her young son, said she's okay with the change.

"For the children's benefit of not having to get second-hand smoke, it's wonderful," she said.

But Eddie Slack and Robert Thompson, who arrived ready to spend the whole day at the pool, had a different take.

"That's kind of ridiculous to me. I mean it's outside, it's not like you're going inside (to smoke)," Slack said.

Thompson added, "I think they should have a smoking section. It's outdoors. It shouldn't bother anyone if it's outdoors."

For those who call it unfair, Orner says, "We have an alternative for you, you can buy a season pass and come and go as you like."

While the new policy is aimed at clearing the air, it has affected some non-smokers as well.

Since you can't bring food into the pool area, many people would return to their cars for a quick bite. Now, those without a season pass have to pay to get back in.

Sara Popp learned about the new policy as she paid $25 for herself and five children. Instead of going for a swim first, the group returned to the car for an early lunch.

Asked if the policy bothered her, Popp said, "Yeah, a little, because we stay four to five hours. The kids are hungry after swimming, so we usually go in (the pool) for a few hours and come back out and eat" before returning to the pool.

While Orner agrees the policy needed to be tweaked some to accommodate picnickers, he believes overall it will create a healthier environment.

He noted it's modeled after policies in other cities and they do make exceptions "for emergencies. If you need medicine from the car or more diapers, but if you're going to smoke, no pass outs."