Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo residents rally to keep Southwest pool open

The city's Southwest pool facility has been a respite for residents from sweltering summers. Its senior programs have enriched lives and eased arthritis pain. Its Olympic size has proven a popular venue for high school swim meets and a favorite training spot for local competitive swimmers.

But with Largo's 2011 budget calling for across-the-board cuts, the pool has been mentioned as a public resource that may need to go if other options of reducing the budget fail.

At a meeting last week, commissioners were presented with a preliminary assessment of possible cuts — among them, "Close and demo Southwest Pool."

Demo, of course, meaning demolish. Filling in the pool would reduce revenue generated by the facility — $68,000 — but save $395,100 in annual operating costs, city staffers estimate. It would also cut out a half-million dollars in necessary maintenance in the coming years.

But, dozens of city residents have said in letters, phone calls, e-mails and in person that the cost in quality of life to the city would far exceed the monetary savings.

"SW pool has made my quality of life better, helping me manage my back pain," resident Bonnie Gerhart wrote.

Another resident, Christopher L. Ross, sent an e-mail to city commissioners: "It has been an intangible asset to my children's growth and well-being and continues to be a valuable part of living in Largo," he wrote.

And Anders Bastman, a city resident and former All-American swimmer, said not only has the pool been a training ground for local athletes — and young residents who use the pool to train to go on to successful aquatic careers in college — but it's also one of the city's most attractive facilities.

"The city's Southwest Rec Center Swimming and Diving facility is a jewel that needs to be burnished, not filled in," he said.

At a meeting with residents about the budget cuts Monday evening, however, City Manager Mac Craig assured residents there are no plans to cut the facility.

And Joan Byrne, Largo's parks and recreation director, said the department's programs are particularly sensitive to responses from the public because of their popularity among users.

"People love what we do. People feel passionately about parks and recreation," Byrne said.

The pool was placed in the report to provide commissioners with an alternative to reduce the budget if all of the recommended cuts are unacceptable to commissioners.

Byrne said that of the $3.5 million in cuts the city has set as its goal, $890,000 is slated to come from her department.

"To do that, you've got to put a lot of things on that list," she said.

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or dtao@sptimes.com.

Largo residents rally to keep Southwest pool open 03/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]