So much to ponder about Pasco's misguided cuts to pools and parks

There will be refreshing dips, kayak trips and boating in lakes in northern North Carolina and later in western New York during the annual summer break from Pasco and Hernando counties.

The lack of chlorine will be good practice for our return to Pasco and the anticipated dearth of public swimming pools next summer. That is a problem Hernando never confronted because government never built a public swimming pool.

Still, it raises so many questions to ponder on the pilgrimage north.

• How come swimming pools are no longer necessities for summertime recreation in Florida?

It wasn't that long ago when Pasco County was kicking around the idea of using tourist tax money to outfit the Wesley Chapel District Park with an Olympic-sized swimming pool in order to draw competitive swim meets and the accompanying spending by families and friends.

Maybe this is all a clever tourism plot. You want to go swimming? Rent a room at a motel with a pool.

• Anyone suspect this statistic is about to decline?

Forty-one percent of children ages 7 to 17 years, and 17.4 percent of adults in the United States, swim at least six times per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Likewise, adults and children older than age 6 visit a pool 339 million times each year.

• A long, dry season?

The first day of practice for high school swimmers and divers is Aug. 8. No word on where Land O'Lakes, Sunlake, Hudson and River Ridge will practice and hold meets if county commissioners padlock pools Oct. 1.

• What if the building had a different name?

Gov. Rick Scott's political retribution and the end of the state budget year on Thursday closes the opportunity for a new health clinic for the needy in northwest Pasco at the Mike Fasano Hurricane Shelter.

• Does this look like an affluent area filled with swimming pools?

The idea that Pasco County residents have access to their own pools at home or through their neighborhood associations is all wet.

Three-quarters of the single-family homes in Pasco County do not have swimming pools. For visual proof, just drive north on Hicks Road from State Road 52 until you reach Veterans Memorial Park, one of the two swimming pools slated for closure. Not a pool in sight.

• Anyone else notice the irony of closing a swimming pool (because they're so readily available) in the same neck of the woods where the population is needy enough to require a free or low-cost health clinic?

• Maybe I missed it, but in doing the Pasco County online survey, does anyone recall the question: Would you rather close the public swimming pools in Land O'Lakes and Hudson if it means freeing up more money for economic development incentives?

• If Hernando County had sought significant public input before formulating its budget-cutting ideas, do you really think people would have advocated closing the ball fields at Ernie Wever Youth Park?

• Would the Hernando commission seriously consider this idea if it was the Ernie Wever Adult Park?

• Are you sure you're not making this up?

Less than two weeks after hearing the plan to close swimming pools, Pasco commissioners approved a resolution declaring July as Parks and Recreation Month.

• Is there a little Pasco envy at work?

Hernando commissioners are scheduled to consider the same parks resolution Tuesday. The vote comes eight weeks after the commission listened to a budget plan for the coming year that calls for shuttering five parks and shutting down significant portions of two others.

Here is a sample of the proclamation:

"Parks and recreation programs boost the economy, enhance property values, attract new business, increase tourism and reduce crime.

"Recreation builds family unity, strengthens neighborhood involvement, offers opportunity for social interaction, enhances education, develops creativity and promotes cultural diversity.

"Our parks and trails ensure ecological beauty, provide space to enjoy nature, help maintain clean air and water and preserve plant and animal wildlife.''

Feel free to add:

Just not enough for us to keep the parks open.

So much to ponder about Pasco's misguided cuts to pools and parks 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 12:00pm]

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