To the Editor:
Drip, drip, drip — that’s the sound of Alexandria’s pools going down the drain. Lee — closed. Ewald — closed. Colasanto — closed. Warwick — proposed to close in just over two months. That leaves Old Town and Chinquapin as the only two major public pools in the city — and those will be gone in 5 to 10 years. Why? Because hardly any money has been spent on new pools in the last 20 years (the only exception is the postage stamp of a pool at Houston). There is a lot of discussion during this budget process about the problems caused by deferred capital investment by previous City Councils. You need look no further than the pool situation to see that.
The Seaport City — surrounded by water on all sides — Cameron Run, Four Mile Run, the Potomac River — will not be able to provide swimming lessons to its residents in the near future. To see the need for people knowing how to swim, just look at the name of the Houston pool — the Memorial Pool — honoring several Alexandrians that drowned over the years.
To make matters worse, $9 million in future money for fixing the pools was taken out of the 2014 budget. What’s going to happen? We are fortunate to have a City Council that understands the situation. They required the city to provide funding estimates for deferred capital projects. That includes up to $30 million for new pools in the city. But even that has a catch — the council has to vote for a tax increase to get that money.
Pools are one of the few recreation activities that all age levels can enjoy — from 3 months old to 103 years old. You don’t get too old to swim. In fact, many people turn to swimming in later years due to arthritis and other challenges.
I have seen the passion that these council members have for improving aquatics in Alexandria. I believe that they will have the interests of all Alexandrians in mind when they vote on May 6. They know that there are private sector groups out there who will help resolve this problem. They will create the working relationship needed to build a brighter future for Alexandria’s pools.