Make us your home page

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

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

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.