15 May 2007

Cincinnati to Close Public Pools

In what I view as a tragic mistake, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission is proposing to close many public pools and install "spraygrounds".

WVXU reports:

Cincinnati’s Recreation Commission is getting ready to open the city’s 40 swimming pools during the first week in June. Acting Recreation Director Michael Thomas told Council’s Health and Recreation committee Monday that more than 200 of the needed lifeguards have been hired and are being trained. In the future the number of pools may be reduced because of the price tag for maintenance. Thomas says they could be replaced with spraygrounds, which is basically a playground that allow people to get wet. The commission is planning to replace Oyler Pool in Price Hill with one of these facilities. Spraygrounds could be open longer during the summer, and they would not require lifeguards. He says the commission will be studying the volume and usage of all the pools in the city. A consultant has determined the city would have to spend $20 million to bring the city’s pools to good condition, and that’s without any new issues or problems developing.

Cincinnati has 40 public pools, and many of them are packed during the hottest days. A few years ago you could barely see the water through all the kids in the two Over-the-Rhine pools. However, as population has left OTR, the pools have become less and less crowded. I would argue that this is a temporary situation, and we should not rush to close pools at this time.

I could write a book about the importance of neighborhood pools to the success of urban neighborhoods. If our pool is closed, our family will change from walking to the pool, to getting in a car and driving to a pool. Most likely we will join a pool club outside the neighborhood. We will lose one more connection between us and our neighbors. Our neighbors who cannot afford to join a club or drive a few miles, will be less likely to learn how to swim.


Anonymous said...

Uh... splash parks can be really great. My bet is that they are easier to operate, they are cheaper, and still keep the kids cool in the hottest days of summer.

catherine said...

Well I suppose getting wet is fun but if it was that great why don't the suburbanites just get out their sprinklers? Nothing beats a pool, being able to totally immerse yourself in the cool is one thing but more importantly no one can learn how to swim at a sprayground. Plus the public pools also have swim teams that provide a pretty much no cost/ no equipemnt sports activity for kids in the city. IT is also a great summer job for neighborhood kids. I do belive it would be terribly short-sighted to remove pools from neighborhoods that the city is intent on revitalizing. Its one ammenity that this city has in spades and I would hate to see it lost. In addition, I would argue with the estimate to "repair" the existing pools. You may notice there is no estimate provided to demolish them and construct a sprayground. I don't believe they would be a money saver in the short run. Certainly the operational costs are lower but then good neighborhood jobs are also lost. In my mind we should build on the assets we have instead of looking for something newer and cheaper.

CityKin said...

The really nice spraygrounds (like those found in Hamilton County Parks) do have lifeguards. Toilet, shower and locker facilities are still required. If they do a nice sprayground, it will be both expensive to build and to operate.

If however they just put some self-actuated spray nozzles on a rubber pavement, with no supervision, and no locker or concession facilities, then yes it will be much cheaper. It will also be lame. If the facilities are not fenced and staffed, they will be vandalized and teenagers on bikes will come thruogh etc.

I plan on stopping by the one existing sprayground that CRC built on Bank Street and taking some pictures, so we know what we are talking about.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Catherine...the value we lose to our neighborhoods and city communities by putting in so called cheaper spray playgrounds is way too great!The pools offer so many advantages to our cities; for one, it's good clean unstructured playtime for our kids. Let's keep our kids swimming, our neighborhood jobs,and most importantly let's value the good communities built from the results of the public city pools. Let's keep the good things we have left!!!