Fri, Aug 10, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Free hot spring for seniors rejected

LETTING IT SIMMER: Although local senior citizens will not be exempted from paying entrance fees, there is a possibility they will be offered preferential deals

By Huang Chi-hao and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tourists on a viewing platform look over the popular Hell Valley natural hot sulfur spring in Taipei’s Beitou District on Saturday.

Photo: Huang Chi-hao, Taipei Times

The Taipei Water Department has rejected a proposal to grant free entrance to a public hot spring in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) to senior residents as a way of repaying their contributions to the construction of the resort.

The proposal, proposed by Beitou’s Chang-an Borough (長安) Warden Chen Chang-sheng (陳章生), called on the department to provide free entrance or lower its current entrance fee for elderly residents to the Beitou Hot Spring, located opposite the Taipei Beitou Elementary School.

The proposition came as Chen and a number of city councilors and borough chiefs suggested that the site’s admission fees were too high and requested a lower price before the reopening of the resort, which is temporarily closed after the previous management contract ended on April 8 this year.

At present, entrance fees for its public pool on the first floor are NT$90 for adults, NT$65 for children and NT$50 for those aged 65 or above.

Compared with the pricing of another resort, the Millennium Hot Spring, the Beitou Hot Spring, despite being well received among senior residents because its blue sulfur spring contains the micro-element radium, is far more costly, Chen said.

A two-hour session at the Millenium Hot Spring only costs an adult NT$40 and a child or student NT$20, while elderly people are entitled to free entrance during the site’s “charity period.”

“The plot of land on which the hot spring resort stood was the generous contribution of the many senior residents, who, in the past, arduously accumulated every penny to procure the land and donated it to the city government,” Chen said.

Chen said that elderly people residing in the area should be granted free admission to the site or be charged no more than NT$30, while visitors from outside the district should pay in the market price.

Echoing Chen’s proposal, Zhongyang Borough (中央) Warden Chen Hung-chun (陳鴻鈞) in Beitou said the previous contractor of the resort should not haggle over every dime since it had already made profit from the site.

Chen Hung-chun said that the contractor had been charging more than NT$100 for admission to the private pools on the second floor, while renting out vacant spaces on the third floor or providing them for the department or the city government to use.

“[I doubt] any significant operational loss would be incurred by simply providing free entrance to senior residents. Besides, it could be a good way of repaying the selfless dedication of the older generation,” Chen Hung-chun said.

However, department director Wu Yang-lung (吳陽龍) dismissed the proposal by saying it would be unfair to subsidize a small group of people with the money paid by the general public for their water bills.

Wu said the previous contractor had already offered a preferential deal for seniors, while granting free admission would make the resort accessible to too many people and thus decrease the bathing quality.

The department would request each enterprise submitting their bids for the resort to contrive a set of favorable prices based on market mechanism, Wu said, from which the department would choose the one deemed most favorable to the local residents.

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