Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Foster backs away from closing pools as the City Council objects

ST. PETERSBURG — A plan that Mayor Bill Foster unveiled last week to close four of nine city pools already looks dead for lack of support.

The City Council needs to sign off on the plan, which includes turning four of the five remaining public pools into pay-to-play water parks. But on Tuesday, a majority of council members said they don't support closing any pools or charging higher fees.

"I'm not in favor of closing pools," said council Chairwoman Leslie Curran. "(The water parks) are a ridiculous idea, and you have to give it more thought before you start closing pools."

Last week, Foster said the closures would narrow a $12 million gap in next year's budget. With attendance flagging at some pools, Foster said he needed to cut services that were getting the least use. The plan included closing four of the pools and filling them in so they could be used as recreation centers or parks. Four of the salvaged pools would be transformed into water parks with features that would draw crowds willing to pay up to $8 for two hours at a time.

On Tuesday, however, Foster said he meant to say he would consider closing two pools next year, and a total of four pools "somewhere down the road" as long as he had council support.

Foster acknowledged he got negative feedback about the idea over the weekend, but said that wasn't the reason he was now saying he intended to close only two.

There has been a growing backlash against the idea, said Will Michaels, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations. Known as CONA, it plans to have a meeting tonight where the proposed closures will be discussed.

"There is a lot of concern about it," Michaels said. "To close the pools and make them less accessible and to charge more, that's really hurting those families who are the most in need in the community at a time of a great recession."

During Tuesday's meeting with council members, Foster barely mentioned the pool idea. When it did come up, he referred the idea to a future, unscheduled workshop.

Foster said Tuesday's meeting was meant to discuss the city's budget for projects over the next five years, and wasn't the venue to discuss a specific proposal. But some council members said Foster should have taken the time to better explain the idea, which he had already discussed individually with each council member last month.

"The mayor wants to close city pools, not the council," said Wengay Newton. "It's his idea, not ours. He needs to clarify that. I was surprised that at today's meeting, he didn't explain what his idea is."

Like Curran, Newton said he doesn't support closing any pools. Neither do Steve Kornell, Bill Dudley or Herb Polson — at least for now. They all objected to the water park in lieu of pools.

Karl Nurse said he understood the logic of closing pools, but not the logic of spending money to build water parks.

"When money is tight, you can't afford to make a mistake," Nurse said. "Imagine if we built these parks and they didn't draw huge crowds. Then what?"

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at mvansickler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8037.

Foster backs away from closing pools as the City Council objects 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 9:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after:Matt Andriese trying to put good finish on injury-marred season

    Blogs

    RHP Matt Andriese can't make up for the 2 1/2 months he missed due to a hip injury this season after getting off to a solid 5-1, 3.54 start.

    But he can use his last few outings to remind the Rays, and himself, of how good he can be.
    He did it the hard way Thursday, allowing three runs as four of the …

  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  3. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on …

    A Fort Myers woman who'd recently undergone a double-organ transplant painted a sign that said, "HOT SINGLE FEMALE SEEKS SEXY LINEMAN TO ELECTRIFY HER LIFE" and sure enough, she got her power turned back on. [Photo from video]
  4. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  5. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles

    Wildlife

    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]