Pork Stories

Three Michigan cities swim with the help of state taxpayer funds

Three community pools lap up over $7 million in 2024 state budget

Michigan taxpayers are footing the bill for three municipal swimming pool projects in the state budget, for a total of $7.6 million. Ann Arbor will receive $1.2 million for Forestbrooke Pool in Ann Arbor, a members-only facility. Lansing’s Moores Park Pool, which opened in 1923, is granted $6.2 million, and Ypsilanti’s Rutherford Pool is in line for $200,000.

A family membership at the Forestbrooke Pool in Ann Arbor is $625 annually, with other demographic groups paying less. “These funds will be used to repair and replace our mostly original infrastructure while updating it to a more accessible and inclusive space,” said J.J. Martinez, president of the Forestbrooke Athletic Club, according to a press release issued by Rep. Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield. Brabec said in the press release that she was charmed by the facility.

The pool is located in the Forestbrook-Pittsfield Village area, where 75.5% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to Neighborhood Scout, which notes that less than 5% of all neighborhoods in the U.S. have a more educated population. The majority of adults in the neighborhood, 59.3%, are employed in executive, management and professional occupations.

Lansing’s Moores Park Pool received the bulk of the state budget’s allocation for pool projects, at $6.2 million. An advocacy group for the pool lauds Sen. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, for helping secure the grant, according to Focus Magazine, a publication of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. Anthony leads the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ypsilanti relinquished its responsibility for the Rutherford Pool in 2003 to the group Friends of Rutherford Pool after city officials decided it was too much of an expense, according to a 2013 story in the Ann Arbor Chronicle. A 2010 study concluded that the pool should be replaced.

Friends of Rutherford Pool raised over $1 million in 2014 to rebuild the facility. It is not clear what the $200,000 state grant will be used for, but the city of Ypsilanti’s 2023 budget notes that $300,000 is needed to redevelop the pool’s bathhouse.

CapCon sent out emails to various parties, seeking comment on these projects. No recipient responded.

Critics of pork projects say there is no process or transparency for awarding these grants. A representative or senator requests the grants that will benefit his or her district to be included in the budget. There is no competitive process or vetting of the request for state taxpayer money that is redistributed to local projects.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.