30 October 2007

Washington Park Alternatives with Pool

The Cincinnati Park Board has been developing plans to expand Washington Park into the location of the current Washington Park Elementary. This is a project with immense potential, and I am very excited by it. However, I have posted many times about the importance of swimming pools in Over-the-Rhine, and feel that the existing pool should either remain or a new one be integrated into the design. The Park Board has developed a design for the park that they hope to present to the public sometime this fall. The presentation has been delayed apparently for the following reasons:
- Community Council request to add pool and basketball or similar recreation.
- Cincinnati Recreation Commission is finalizing their city-wide plan for pools in the city. When this is ready for public consumption, it may address the deepwater pool issue in OTR. However all indications are that CRC is proposing to remove all deepwater pools that are not part of a Community Center, and OTR's Community Center is landlocked and probably cannot fit an outdoor pool.
- Controversy over the proposed temporary parking lot to serve as staging for the SCPA and for temporary parking for Music Hall until an additional garage is built.

A group of Miami Architecture Students in collaboration with some Over-the-Rhine neighbors have been researching recreation options in the OTR parks. I am not part of this group, but I have been trying to keep abreast of their work. They have researched pool operating costs. They have compared new pool costs to rehabbing old pools and they have researched minimum sizes and attendance figures. They have also consulted with the Community Council about their desires for the parks.

In response to their research a petition has been started requesting that Washington Park be designed to have neighborhood recreation, including basketball and pools. I think they have over 400 signatures already on their petition.

The following is their statement and some presentation drawings.

The Cincinnati Park Board is in the process of redesigning Washington Park. We appreciate improvements to the park but the new design lacks play spaces for older children and teenagers. For the park design to be a successful family oriented park, it must accommodate diverse ages and interests. The current draft design removes the deep-water pool and basketball court.

With our design, we hope to illustrate how a deep-water pool and basketball court could fit into the future Washington Park plan.

B. Drapac, S. Palmer, M. Kirby, and L. Mettler
Miami University Center for Community Engagement
1300 Vine Street

Typical Drawing showing the Student Proposals:

Diagram of Proposed Park Design:

Drawing showing existing plan, and some proposed option with a full-sized pool:

What I think is interesting about the park plans is how little space the pool actually occupies in such a large park.


Beach said...

It's a beautiful plan, but if they are closing pools for lack of funds, how can they implement even the plan that keeps the same pool location?

CityKin said...

A generation previous to ours spend a lot of money building pools in almost every neighborhood in the city. Are we that short-sighted that we just eliminate this amenity? As a society and as a city, do we think it is important that children learn how to swim? We moan about the teenagers hanging on corners in the summer, when they used-to hang-out at the pool all summer.

It is about priorities.

Also, I have no problem with Cincinnati Recreation Commission implementing more user fees to increase their budget. I certainly do not think they have examined all their options before choosing to remove the pools. It seems to me that CRC is trying it's best to become irrelevant, when they should be shouting "we are part of the solution".

Radarman said...

There is a deepwater pool in the former Hub Services just south of Findlay Market. I very much doubt that the Recreation Commission has made much of an effort to put it to use.
There is a huge pool at the Lincoln Center in the West End, half a mile from Washington Park.
Before the Miami design students take to the streets and before we spend on another deep water pool, I would like to know the current estimate of the number of children living in the greatly depopulated OTR and the cost of a shuttle to the West End.

CityKin said...

The Lincoln Pool is great. The HUB center pool is a dark, underused and undermaintained indoor pool that isn't even open in the summer.

If we want to plan for current and future depopulation, why build any parks or recreation? Hell, everyone is leaving, might as well pack up and go myself. The whole point of this blog is to promote families in the city.

The point is that the pool [i]exists now.[/i] A deepwater pool has existed at that site for many many years and has been an anchor to the neighborhood. We have diving boards and swimming lanes. We have Guard Start, Swimming Lessons, and a Swim Team for kids 6-16. If this pool is closed and replaced with a spray fountain, then we have lost all of that, plus more.

The question is fundementally about what kind of neighborhood we want OTR to be. I understand that Washington Park is less of a neighborhood park than say, Hanna, Ziegler or Findlay Playground. Each park has a role to play and perhaps the neighborhood pool would ideally be in one of those other parks. Unfortunately, it looks like the neighborhood is headed towards as situation in which we have no pool suitable for swim lessons, diving or swim team, and that is a shame, a real shame.

Anonymous said...

If the HUB Services building you speak of is the OTR Rec Center, then the pool is and has been utilized very well over the years - check out this link for current programming:


The kayak classes are so popular, they fill up quickly. While the hours are somewhat limited, they can have a good crowd during open swim.

CityKin said...

I admit I have not been an active user of the HUB center pool. They close for several weeks between each season, and it is not an attractive option in the summer when the other pools are open and when we do most of our swimming.

Most kids swim in the summer, especially the "at risk" kids, and an outdoor pool serves a different purpose/population than an indoor pool.

CRC staff has indicated that they are investigating ways to convert or expand the Rec Center pool into a partially outdoor pool, and I think that is an idea worth pursuing. However, the site is very tight and I am not sure they could make it work.

To my mind, Ziegler park would also be a good location for a deepwater pool. Because of it's open, attractive location, it would certainly be successful. However CRC staff have taken that option off the table.